CHENNAI: Ever since she assumed office as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for the third time, J Jayalalithaa has kept the Centre on its toes on issues concerning Tamil Nadu and the State’s rights. Issue after issue, she has thrown difficult balls on to the Centre’s court, holding the leverage on most of them.
Her perpetual engagement with non-Congress Chief Ministers across the country and her propensity to meet common ground with them over their own objections to the Centre’s policies have proved to be a persistent thorn for the government in New Delhi.
Take the National Counter Terrorism Centre for instance. Jayalalithaa forged a common stance with West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Odisha CM Navin Patnaik and Gujarat CM Narendra Modi among others to challenge the Centre’s alleged move to encroach upon State governments’ powers.
Jayalalithaa’s exchanges with these Chief Ministers and non-Congress party honchos has kept the Congress top brass and media houses guessing about her intentions on likely realignment of forces ahead of the Lok Sabha elections slated for 2014. She sent emissaries to Narendra Modi’s Sadbhavana fast, met Leftist leaders in the same vein as she met BJP honchos. This has left confused leaders form across the country presenting their own interpretations to the media on their relationship with the AIADMK leader.
Speculations over the formation of a third front with Jayalalithaa as a key player reopened when she recently met Odisha CM Navin Patnaik in Chennai.
At a recent meet in Delhi, Jayalalithaa made her own set of recommendations on how to fix the NCTC wreck. She called for a nodal mechanism in the States to coordinate with the nodal Central agency on matters of counter terrorism, and for the creation of a Rapid Action Counter Terrorist Force in every State, which will function under the nodal State Agency. She also raised objection to the fact that there has not been even a mention of taking officers on deputation from the State Intelligence agencies.
Similarly, she strongly opposed the Centre’s move to do away with Government Railway Police of State governments, which serve as the link between the Railway Protection Force and the District Police.
“In the absence of GRP, co-ordination between RPF and the State police will suffer and the railway stations will become islands of Central government authority within the territorial jurisdiction of the States,” Jayalalithaa said.
Referring to the letter written to Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu in this regard, the CM, in her communication to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, charged that the present ill-conceived move of the Railway Ministry was yet another blatant attempt of the Centre to usurp the powers of the States as violative of the provisions of the Constitution as well as the Indian Police Act. “If this trend of making railway stations and trains the exclusive domain of RPF continues, a time may come when the district police may be barred from entering railway stations for making the arrest of accused wanted in local police cases,” Jayalalithaa pointed out.
“The way things are evolving with the creation of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), we seem to be headed toward an autocracy consisting of a Government of the Centre, by the Centre, for the Centre,” she said.
Jayalalithaa has also kept the pressure on the Centre with local issues, be it attacks on Tamil fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy, Mullaiperiyar dam and the protests against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant. Jayalalithaa kept the Centre on tenterhooks by appointing her own panel to evaluate safety of the nuclear plant.
And even as she continues to keep the government in New Delhi guessing about her next move, Jayalalithaa in all such issues has won accolades for leading from the front to protect the interests of the State.