Year-ender 2019: CM Palaniswami puts TN on top

Chennai:┬áThe year 2019 was more like a commercial film with so much of twists and turns in the State’s political scenario. The two big Dravidian parties had their highs and lows. While the AIADMK cemented its base in the State by winning the byelections, the DMK emerged winners in the Lok Sabha elections with almost a clean sweep.

AIADMK’s comeback

The DMK’s dream of storming to power did not fructify as AIADMK won nine of the 22 Assembly seats where bypolls were held along with the Parliamentary elections, sailing past the simple majority figure and giving Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami a lot of breathing space. Most of the 22 seats where polls were held had fallen vacant earlier following the disqualification of 18 pro-Dhinakaran AIADMK MLAs who had rebelled against Palaniswami after he merged his faction with that of then rebel leader O Panneerselvam, now deputy Chief Minister, in August 2017. The Madras High Court had upheld the disqualification of the 18 legislators. Palaniswami also staged a comeback of sorts later in the year, when the AIADMK won the Vikravandi and Nanguneri Assembly bypolls in October, wresting them from arch rival DMK and Congress, respectively.

DMK’s success

File photo of MK Stalin

DMK president M K Stalin, whose strategising skills came under scrutiny following the party’s loss in the 2016 Assembly polls despite a better show then, had reasons to smile as he steered the mega Secular Progressive Alliance to a massive win in the Lok Sabha election, securing 38 of 39 seats in Tamilnadu and the one in neighbouring Puducherry. He also attempted to establish himself as a strong regional leader, leading from the front against the Centre on issues including the CAA, federalism and alleged Hindi imposition on non-Hindi speaking states.
The DMK-led SPA’s victory prompted political observers to draw parallel to a similar show by the party-led coalition in 2004, when then DMK chief, the late M Karunanidhi, ensured a 40/40, despite Jayalalithaa being at the helm.

Kamal’s first attempt

After floating his political party Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) last year actor Kamal Haasan faced the 2019 Lok Sabha elections with a decent vote share. Although MNM candidates failed to win a single parliamentary seat, the party managed to secure third place in as many as 13 Lok Sabha constituencies, giving the party’s founder the hope that it can emerge as an alternative to the two major Dravidian parties.

Rajinikanth keeps guessing

The expectations around superstar Rajinikanth’s political innings continued. Rajinikanth, a veteran of over 40 years in Indian cinema, had announced in December 2017 that he will indeed take the political plunge, and announced his plans to face the next Assembly polls, due in 2021, contesting from all 234 seats. However, he is yet to formally join politics. Making remarks on controversial issues, some of them perceived to be in support of the BJP government at the Centre, the actor made a sensational indication of joining hands with Kamal in the future, although the two are said to be on the either sides of the spectrum ideologically. Kamal also seemed to support the idea, sparking off speculations of a new political alignment to take on the ruling AIADMK and the opposition DMK.

Dinakaran’s failure

AMMK founder TTV Dhinakaran who was seen as a strong force in the political scenario after the demise of Jayalalithaa went into a silent period after his party’s poor performance in the Lok Sabha elections. AMMK candidates did not fare well in any of the constituencies.

Elevation of Udhayanidhi

DMK chief M K Stalin’s son Udhayanidhi Stalin was appointed as the party’s youth wing secretary. The post of youth wing secretary is one of the key positions in DMK’s organisational structure. After Stalin and former Minister and three-time MLA Vellakoil Saminathan, Udhayanidhi becomes the third youth wing secretary of the party, and second from Dravidian stalwart Karunanidhi’s family.

Foreign tours

Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami embarked on a three nation tour during which he met investors from several countries. Not just Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and few other Ministers also visited many countries. Palaniswami said that 41 MoUs to the tune of Rs 8,835 crore investments were signed during his visits to US, UK and Dubai.

More investments

The second edition of the Global Investors meet was held in the State during which 304 MoUs aggregating an investment totalling over Rs 3 lakh crore were signed.

BJP’s wait continues

Tamilisai Soundararajan who was heading the BJP unit in the State was appointed as Governor of Telangana. No replacement has been announced to replace her position in Tamilnadu.

International focus

Tamilnadu become the centre of international focus as the State hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping and India Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the second informal summit held at Mammallapuram.

Protests

Tamilnadu witnessed massive, yet peaceful protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act by the end of the year, with the DMK-led opposition hitting the streets, even as civil society members followed suit.

Civic polls, at last

After a long wait, civic polls were finally announced in the State. However, the polls were held in two phases only in the rural areas.

TN leads in good governance index

The Central government adjudged Tamilnadu as the leading State in the Good Governance Index. It may be noted that Tamilnadu secured an overall score of 5.62 in the 10-sector index ranking of States released by the Union Department of Administrative Reforms and Grievances.

On water sharing

Almost after 15 years, direct talks was held regarding the Parambikulam Aliyar Project (PAP) between Tamilnadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and his Kerala counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan in Thiruvananthapuram. According to sources both the States have agreed that their Chief Secretaries would meet once in six months and discuss the functioning of the Secretary-level committee formed to resolve the river water-sharing issues.

Pongal cash and gift

Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami inaugurated the Pongal cash and gift hamper scheme at the Secretariat. To mark the beginning of the scheme, Palaniswami distributed gift hampers and Rs 1,000 cash to 16 families. The gift hamper includes one kg each rice and sugar, 20 gm each cashewnuts and raisins and five gm cardamom, all of which go into the preparation of Pongal. It also contains a two ft long sugarcane piece. The government said Rs 2363.13 crore has been allotted for this purpose.

Balasubramani Muniyandi