100 days later, Jayalalithaa invites praise and scorn

August 23rd, 2011 - 4:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Aug 23 (IANS) As J. Jayalalithaaa Tuesday completed 100 days as Tamil Nadu’s chief minister, the poor are not complaining. But others are divided in their assessment of the actor-turned-politician.

Within minutes of becoming the chief minister in May, Jayalalithaa ordered implementation of her election promises.

One of her first decisions was to supply 20 kg of free rice for the poor and 35 kg for the very poor through the public distribution system.

She has started giving away for free four grams of ‘mangalsutra’ in gold to the poor on top of the Rs.25,000 in cash already given during weddings.

The pension for the elderly, destitute, widows and differently abled women has been doubled to Rs.1,000. Compensation paid to fishermen who suffered during a 45-day fishing ban has been hiked.

Other election promises like a free laptop for every student, free mixer or grinder or fans for women and free cattle for the rural poor are slated for implementation Sep 15.

Jayalalithaa, 63, has announced that the AIADMK government will implement every promise within one and a half years.

The poor are naturally elated. But others hold varying opinions, with some ruling it “not bad” and others saying she has done nothing spectacular.

“The 100 days can be described as not great and not bad. There were good things and some avoidable goof-ups,” political commentator Gnani told IANS.

Jayalalithaa staged a stunning comeback to become chief minister May 16. The AIADMK on its own won 148 seats.

Its bitter foe, the DMK, some of its leaders mired in corruption cases, bagged just 23 seats in the 234-member assembly to suffer the humiliation of being denied the status of the main opposition party in the assembly.

Jayalalithaa has decisively done away with some schemes introduced by the DMK government. One of them has turned out to be controversial.

Gnani pointed to the decision to scrap the uniform syllabus scheme for Class 1-10 school students of state/matriculation/oriental/Anglo-Indian education streams.

Even the DMDK, an ally of the AIADMK, is critical about this even as it praises Jayalalithaa for scoring well on the administrative front.

DMDK’s Panruti S. Ramachandran told IANS: “That was the only negative aspect of this government. The move created anxiety among parents as their children were not given textbooks for nearly two months after schools reopened.”

But Ramachandran, once the right hand of AIADMK founder leader M.G. Ramachandran, said the Jayalalithaa government had started on a good note.

“It is a good beginning. The government has not levied any additional tax or revised upwards the power or bus tariffs, which would have pinched the common man,” he said.

The AIADMK government’s decision to crack the whip on land grabbers has received popular support even as the heat is on many DMK leaders.

Gnani pointed out that many of the complaints about land grab were actually lodged when the DMK was in power. The present government is only acting on them.

Some pet schemes of DMK chief and former chief minister M.K. Karunanidhi have been scrapped: medical insurance scheme for the poor and free colour televisions for ration card holders.

More famously, Jayalalithaa has refused to shift the Secretariat from Fort St.George to the new assembly and secretariat building. The latter, she said, would be converted into a hospital.

But this has prompted Karunanidhi to hit out at her, calling it “Tughlaq raj”.

The AIADMK leader continues to hold a distance from the central government and will do so till the Congress remains a DMK ally.

But with national politics increasingly come to lean on smaller and regional parties, she knows her importance, more so if she continues with the winning streak in the next Lok Sabha election.

On the street, few seem to have complaints about Jayalalithaa’s 100 days.

“The government is okay so far,” auto driver Raja told IANS.

Agreed R. Raghunathan, a retired government employee: “Compared to her earlier regime, this time it is good. Only 100 days have gone by. It will take at least a year for people to reap benefits from her rule.”

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