CHENNAI: A year after she stormed to power in Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa still enjoys wide support in the state. But the number of critics is rising too.
Reactions on one year of AIADMK rule varied as Jayalalithaa began her second year in office Wednesday,
It was on this day in 2011 that the actress-turned-politician took the oath of office -- for the third time since 1991.
Most of the poor seem happy. The government gives 20 kg of free rice to the poor and 35 kg for the very poor.
Four grams of 'mangalsutra' in gold is also given free to the poor besides the Rs.25,000 already provided during weddings.
The pension for the elderly, destitute, widows and differently abled women has been doubled to Rs.1,000. Compensation to fishermen who suffered during a 45-day fishing ban has been hiked.
Other election promises like free laptops for students, free mixers or grinders, fans and induction stoves, free sanitary napkins for rural women, free cattle for the poor and other schemes have been implemented.
"The free cattle scheme has benefited sections of the rural people and kindled the hopes of millions. It is a good scheme," Communist Party of India leader D. Pandian told IANS.
The middle class is, however, upset that bus fares and milk and power costs have shot up.
"My power bill has doubled and it is pinching. We are now reducing our power consumption," R. Raghunathan, a retired private sector employee, told IANS.
Power cuts are rampant.
The chief minister's controversial stand of asking the central government to stop all construction at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) effectively delayed it by six months.
After initially backing local protests against the project, Jayalalithaa gave the green signal in March this year.
The Vision 2023 document released by Jayalalithaa has set a target of making Tamil Nadu one of the top three investment destinations in Asia by 2023.
According to CPI's Pandian, the Jayalalithaa government's stand on issues like the Mullaperiyar dam row with Kerala and the situation in Sri Lanka gained the support of all political parties.
The chief minister also wants the death penalty given to three people from Tamil Nadu for the 1991 assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi to be converted into life imprisonment.
Politically, however, Jayayalithaa is now a virtual loner. She upset electoral allies by going against one of them, the DMDK.
"The AIADMK thinks it has gained strength and does not need others. This thinking will have serious implications," Pandian warned.
Jayalalithaa has declared that the AIADMK will play a key role nationally in the times to come.
The government's decision to crack the whip on land grabbers has received popular backing.
According to the government, following 34,700 complaints, 1,299 people who had grabbed land were arrested and land worth Rs.758 crore was restored to the rightful owners.
Some pet schemes of former chief minister M. Karunanidhi like provision of free colour televisions for ration card holders have been scrapped and some have been re-launched.
More famously, Jayalalithaa has refused to shift the secretariat from Fort St. George to the new assembly and secretariat building. The latter, she said, will be converted into a hospital.
Jayalalithaa also maintains a distance from the central government. She is against some of the latter's initiatives, saying they encroach upon the states' autonomy.