The new Chief Minister M K Stalin’s recent advice to his DMK cadre that it was pointless to blame the previous regime for any lacuna and asking them to light a lamp to dispel darkness instead, came as a breath of fresh air in the otherwise polarised polity in Tamil Nadu. “Rather than criticising autumn, let us invite spring,” he said in a letter to the cadre, indicating a statesman-like approach that showed both confidence and political maturity. Another indication of his no-nonsense approach was the expulsion of two party workers who vandalised an Amma canteen about a week ago, showing zero tolerance for hooliganism. By doing so, and directing the filing of police complaints against them, he avoided the possibility of copycat attacks on other Amma eateries and sent a stern message of political decency.
About a week before the votes were counted on May 2, Stalin had said neither the people of the state nor their livelihood are in a position to bear another lockdown, while advising bureaucrats to do their best to contain the pandemic. But a few days after occupying the hot seat, when he realised a short lockdown was inescapable to break the Covid chain, he had no hesitation in making the announcement, thus indicating administrative flexibility for the greater good.
His initial announcements that Covid treatment expenses in private hospitals would be paid by the government under the state’s health insurance scheme and setting up a Covid war room for managing bed availability for both government and private hospitals, especially for critically ill patients, showed his thrust on welfare and efficiency. The intent to take the pandemic head on by putting the best human resources on the job was evident with the allocation of the health portfolio to Ma Subramanian, the dynamic former mayor of the Chennai Corporation. Also, the capital’s Corporation got a new Commissioner in Gagandeep Singh Bedi, whose expertise in disaster management is well known. In sum, Stalin got off to a positive start, which surely is a good augury.