CHENNAI: When Edappadi K Palaniswami was sworn in as the Chief Minister on February 16 last year, many thought the government will not last and the State may face fresh elections. But, a year on, the Palaniswami-led government has sailed through many turbulent periods and there seems to be no imminent challenge to its stability.
There were internal turmoils in the ruling AIADMK party, which a year ago seemed to be on the verge of collapse into different factions in the absence Jayalalithaa. The State too was witnessing a turbulent period with a series of protests over issues ranging from NEET to hydrocarbon exploration. Nature too posed a challenge in the form of deficit rainfall and Cyclone Ockhi. It would take a seasoned politician-cum-administrator to handle the complexity of these problems.
A few observers say that sustaining a government machinery amidst so many challenges is no mean achievement. “The AIADMK is a party with a massive cadre strength. So far, only popular leaders (MGR and Jayalalithaa) had headed that party. On that count, Palaniswami, who rose from grassroots level, has succeeded in leading the party for one year. Though there are many loose cannons in the party speaking in different voices, he is able to have control over the party as well as government,” says ‘Tharasu’ Shyam, a seasoned journalist and political analyst.
He recalls how even Janaki Ramachandran, wife of AIADMK founder, could not cling to power beyond 26 days, despite having the support of all senior leaders in the party. “But Palaniswami has crossed an year in power. He has managed to tackle the opposition from Sasikala’s family,” he said. “The biggest opposition party is functioning in the Assembly for the first time in the history of Tamil Nadu and the Chief Minister is tackling their protests in his own stride. Despite facing issues on a day-to-day basis, Palaniswami ensured that government machinery is functioning smoothly and no file is pending in his office,” says G Samarasam, spokesperson, AIADMK.
One has to wait for the local body elections to know how the State’s electorate would evaluate the Palaniswami government. “As far as governance is concerned, it is a complex structure wherein cooperation of officialdom is key. That the government machinery is functioning despite many troubles shows that the officialdom has respect for his leadership,” said Shyam.
“On the other hand, the interests of Tamil Nadu have not been safeguarded on many issues such as NEET and the Bill enacted by Sri Lankan government against the interests of Tamil Nadu fishermen. On the investment sector, this government has not done well. Local body elections could not be held for a long time,” he feels.
But the ruling camp believes that Palaniswami has managed to provide the basic governance and did not get into any unwanted controversies. “Completing one year amidst all troubles is a big achievement. The schemes announced by Amma for all sections of society have been implemented without any delay. Law and order has been maintained well. Infrastructure development has been given importance,” says Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar, one of the leaders who stayed with Palaniswami all through the factional fights in the party.