Jayalalithaa government needs to change its act *An open letter to Mamata Bannerji

May 31, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Tamil Nadu, May 25, 2012: Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK government has, obviously, a lot to achieve in the coming years, if it wants to win another term.

On May 16, when the Jayalalithaa government completed one year in office, newspapers carried full-page advertisements proclaiming its achievements.

However, the ads did not appear in the dailies owned by the bigwigs of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), traditional rival of Jayalalitha’s All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

The ads listed the freebies the government distributed to the poor during the past year: 20 kg rice to ration card holders, 4 gm gold for ‘thirumangalyam’ (wedding pendant worn by the bride) and 25,000 rupees to about 85,000 poor educated women to meet their marriage expenses, mixier – grinders and electric fans to about 160,000 poor families, free milk cows and goats or sheep, free laptop computers to 12th standard and college students. The list went on.

Jayalalithaa did well to understand that her party received such an overwhelming mandate not because the people in the state loved her party, but because they were determined to get rid of the DMK rule and saw her party as the only alternative.

What made the people of Tamil Nadu so angry with the DMK rule was the widespread corruption at every level of the administration, the importance given to the large family of former Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi, freedom given to the ministers and party bigwigs to do what they wanted, the land and properties that were forcibly taken away from their rightful owners and the criminal negligence that led to unprecedented power cuts in the state.

This made Jayalalithaa initiate legal proceedings against the DMK party men accused of land grabbing, which was widely acclaimed in the state.

An astounding 34,703 complaints were received and 1,299 men have been arrested for alleged land grabbing. She has also established 25 special courts to try the land- grab cases.

The other initiatives that have been welcomed include the Vision Document that was issued recently.

The ‘Vision Tamil Nadu 2023’ speaks of plans that will result in 11 percent economic growth for the state. It hopes to generate investments worth 15,000 trillion rupees (US$273 trillion) that will be spent on development of infrastructure.

A long time before the state elections Jayalalithaa revealed her displeasure against the new secretariat building the DMK government built at a cost of 10 billion rupees. Soon after assuming power, she announced it would be turned into a multi super specialty hospital and medical college.

Although her critics said she did it to spite the former government, it did not evoke many negative comments, as most people felt the building that had a peculiar design was too costly.

On the other hand, her move to turn the much-appreciated Anna Library, also constructed by the DMK government, into a children’s hospital caused widespread heartburn.

A case that seeks to thwart the government’s prejudiced move and maintain it as a library is now in the Madras High Court, which has already stayed plans to make changes in the library.

Of the two incidents that have drawn widespread criticism in the one-year rule of the AIADMK, the first was the government’s efforts to stop implementing the uniform syllabus in the state’s schools announced by the previous government.

When the High Court asked the government not to meddle with children’s education and so to implement the measure, Jayalalithaa went to the Supreme Court which eventually confirmed the High Court‘s order.

The second incident was the police firing that killed six dalit youth in Paramakudi. Human rights groups blamed the police for the way it dealt with the youth who had gathered for an important dalit function and went to the extent of alleging that caste prejudices were behind the needless firing.

The unprecedented power cuts continue in the state, causing economic hardships and public protests.

There seems to be no resolve to curb corruption that was the major reason for DMK’s downfall. The opposition parties keep saying they are not allowed to voice their views freely at the state legislative assembly.

Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK government has, obviously, a lot to achieve in the coming years, if it wants to win another term.

– m.a. joe antony, sj

An open letter to Mamata Bannerji


West Bengal, May 28, 2012: But too few people in the state would take your claims too seriously, because what we see is quite the opposite.

Dear Mamata-di,

Hearty congratulations on the successful completion of your first year as the chief minister of West Bengal. All public places played songs composed specially for the occasion and they still ring in our ears.

No one can miss the 300 billboards across the Kolkata cityscape, proclaiming your achievements. Much of what has been given in numerous bullet-points is quite revealing and gives the impression yours has been no mean achievement for a first-timer.

As you always claimed, you had achieved in nine months what your unworthy predecessors, the communists, could not do during the 34 years of their reign. You have claimed several times that you have completed 95 percent of your pre-election promises.

But too few people in the state would take your claims too seriously, because what we see is quite the opposite.

However, it is only fair that we note your positive contributions to Bengal in the past one year.

You are a street-fighter par excellence. No one else could ever think of overthrowing the colossal Communist Party of India (Marxists) from Bengal. You had said you would throw out the communists from the state and you did it emphatically.

You have inculcated the fighting spirit in your party people also. However, while trying to imitate you, they create more problems for the state.

The people of Bengal are really proud of you, a fighter, who is able to challenge even the federal government when it tries to bring in laws that go against the common good of the nation.

You had given a lot of hope to us, the people of Bengal, for a situation when we would experience resurgence as our region witnessed in the early nineteenth century that eventually led to the country’s freedom.

However, the majority of people now are disillusioned with the way you go about governing the state.

Your good will and dreams alone would not result in a ‘sonar bangla’ (golden Bengal). We need a good administrator.

Today Bengal is paying for your lack of administrative acumen.

Let us admit, you were never an administrator of a state before. Some people had questioned your administrative skills when you were the federal railway minister before you came to Bengal.

It is unfortunate that you took it for granted that every street fighter could be a good administrator. Your predecessors, despite all their short comings, were able to keep their party members under control.

You claim to have amicably solved two vexing problems of Bengal: the rise of Maoism in Lalgarh area and the Gorkha in the Darjeeling Hills.

What you have done in both these cases was to give temporary relief, not solve the problems once and for all.

What is required is to heal the roots; then we can say the plants are healthy. Until you take impartial bold steps the Maoist and Gorkha problems will continue to disturb your sleep.

Believe it or not, while trying to address these two problems, you seemed to be in a hurry to wind up the issue and give cosmetic facelift to the structures which need to be rebuilt with the cooperation of the people concerned slowly and consciously.

You were actually not working on viable means to solve those issues. You approached them more to prove that you were a far superior leader and administrator than your predecessor Buddhadeb Bhattacharya.

More and more industrialists, who had earlier planned to pitch their tents here in Bengal are today backing out.

Infosys’ dream project in Bengal has come under the purview of your Land Acquisition Act, making it almost impossible for them to get the land they require to put up their industries. Industrialists now say Bengal is not industry-friendly.

Farmers, for whose land you fought at Nandigram and Singur, have not received anything from your comprehensive plan.

The law and order situation in the state is no better. There are more incidents of violence and killing in the state now than a little more than a year ago.

Women in Kolkata feel unsafe after dusk. The classical case was a rape attempt on a woman in downtown Park Street. You refused to admit that such a crime was possible, and even questioned the victim’s character. Unfortunately your own police officers admitted the rape attempt, and you had to lose face.

You are holding the health ministry, but the state has witnessed more cradle deaths in government-run hospitals than ever before.

The arrest of a professor who circulated on email a cartoon on you revealed to all how silly you could be.

You were happy when the media followed you wherever you went in the first month of your rule, but when they began to question you actions, you began charging them. Are you frightened of criticism?

About six months after you took charge, and when problems began to mount, someone remarked that your honeymoon period was over.

I wish you had taken time to settle issues and problems instead of rushing over them.

But the people of Bengal are patient and still hope things can change.

A few days ago you said one needs to learn from one’s mistakes. We hope you would begin to admit at least your mistakes. But learn not only from your mistakes, but those of your predecessors.

However, if you plan to learn everything by making mistakes, then the state may have to pay heavily for it.

Yours sincerely,

A Kolkatan
Julian S Das

– ucanindia.in

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