Year-ender: 2018 saw politics active in TN

Chennai: With the demise of DMK chief M Karunanidhi, disqualification of the 18 MLAs supporting TTV Dhinakaran, floating of many new outfits, 2018 was a politically active year for Tamilnadu.

DMK stalwart and former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi (94), who had a public life that spanned over seven decades, died 7 August after prolonged illness. A host of national leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi paid their last respects to Karunanidhi. He was laid to rest near the Marina Beach after the High Court settled a bitter row with the government over his memorial in the DMK’s favour.

M K Stalin, long considered Karunanidhi’s political heir, consolidated his position by scripting a smooth takeover of the DMK, frustrating a bid by his estranged elder brother M K Alagiri, who was expelled from the party years ago by their father.

Putting to rest speculations of a possible thaw in the DMK’s ties with the BJP, Karunanidhi’s son Stalin, who took over the reins of the party after his death, made a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling him ‘fascist’ at a party event that was attended by a galaxy of opposition leaders.

He plumped for long-time ally Congress president Rahul Gandhi as the Prime Ministerial candidate of the opposition, but the proposal did not find any takers from national
opposition parties and regional outfits.

The ruling AIADMK led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami weathered many a political storm as it saw off the second year since the demise of Jayalalithaa, despite doomsday predictions by rebels and arch rival DMK.

The party won a key legal dispute when the Madras High Court upheld the disqualification of its 18 MLAs who had sided with sacked leader TTV Dhinakaran in a bid to topple the Palaniswami government.

The Palaniswami government suffered a set back when the Madras High Court ordered a CBI probe into the infamous Gutkha scam in which Health Minister C Vijaya Baskar, Director General of Police TK Rajendran and others were questioned.

The police firing in Thoothukudi on the people who were protesting against the Sterlite Copper plant, also brought several criticisms for the government. The government ordered the permanent closure of the plant, but the National Green Tribunal set aside the action.

New actors emerged on Tamilnadu’s political stage that was dominated for decades by Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi, with veteran filmstar Kamal Haasan launching his party Makkal Needhi Maiam in February.

His contemporary in the film industry superstar Rajinikanth, however, kept his fans guessing about the timing of his party’s launch a year after he announced his decision to take the political plunge. Meanwhile, Dhinakaran floated his own party Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam.

The inquiry by the one-man judicial commission into the death of Jayalalithaa picked up pace with a host of people, including officials and doctors, making depositions. It is said the commission will submit its probe report on 24 February 2019.

The vexed Cauvery issue reared its head again with the State moving the Supreme Court against the Centre’s consent for preparing a detailed project report for constructing a dam at Mekedatu proposed by Karnataka, drawing protests in Tamilnadu.

The State Assembly passed a resolution demanding that the Centre withdraw its approval for preparing the report and direct Karnataka to desist from taking up any construction activity across the inter-state river.

Balasubramani Muniyandi