Jayalalithaa returns as CM in last lap of a sputtering govt
Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah greets AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa at a meeting in Chennai on Friday. (Source: PTI photo)
AT 1.28 pm on Friday, when AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa stepped out of her Poes Garden home in Chennai to make her first public appearance after eight months, it was clear that Brand Amma had lost none of its sheen.
For, thousands of supporters had lined up to greet her as she made her way to meet Governor K Rosaiah ahead of her scheduled swearing-in on Saturday as Chief Minister.
From the self-imposed exile after her conviction last September in a case of disproportionate assets to acquittal on May 10 by Karnataka High Court and the resignation of O Panneerselvam as CM, it’s been a 360-degree turn for Jayalalithaa.
But top bureaucrats and advisors of the AIADMK government told The Indian Express that this was just the first step back. They listed out the major challenges that Jayalalithaa faces in the next six to nine months, in the run-up towards next year’s elections, starting from attracting more investment, developing infrastructure and a much-needed push in the education and power sectors.
The first big challenge, a source close to the government said, was ensuring the success of the Global Investors Meet, now scheduled for September 2015. The event has been already postponed twice.
“Whether it is about attracting investment or facilitating infrastructure, the role of government is now reduced to merely offering land for cheaper price. Lack of social support systems, hospitals, education and other facilities in IT corridors are eventually forcing many companies to leave Chennai for other states. For instance, the Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR), an IT-corridor once implemented by Jayalalithaa, is now becoming a ghost town with vacant buildings and apartments,” the source said.
A senior government official said a lack of vision has led to a slowdown in infrastructure and development. “Despite casual wage rates of Tamil Nadu being the second-highest in the country after Kerala, and the state producing the highest number of skilled workers, a lack of vision has led to a complete slowdown. Attracting the right investment, based on its skill and the realities of being a water-starved state, would be her major challenge in the next few months,” he said.
At the same time, other officials said, while the AIADMK government has rolled out many “freebie schemes” all bearing “Amma’s name” — laptops, cement, water and pharma — it has failed to deliver basic services. “It has forgotten the very idea of e-governance. The Electronic Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT), an agency that did wonders in social welfare schemes and Common Service Centres, is now reduced to a purchasing agency procuring laptops and other equipment,” he added.
The first tenure of Jayalalithaa, during 1991-96, is remembered for its remarkable policy changes in the health sector. Health experts who recall those days say the present situation is not so good. “Although primary health centres are doing well, secondary healthcare in the state is in chaos with allegations of corruption and poor administration. Many taluk and district hospitals are understaffed. The Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation, one of the largest bodies that deals with purchases worth crores of rupees, remains headless and is run by officials holding additional charge,” said a senior health department official.
In the education sector, an official said, posts of over 1,000 college lecturers have been vacant for several years. “Managements allege that they are being forced to sell those seats. While a section of these managements are ready to sell the seats, half of them complain that the salary of lecturers are not approved if they don’t pay bribes. This has put hundreds of aided colleges in a serious trouble,” the official said.
The other problem area is the state’s power sector which they hope will be addressed towards the end of this year. “Jayalalithaa would still face major challenges in meeting the demands of industries due to poor connectivity, something which neighbouring states have achieved. Major projects, including the elevated corridor in Chennai, and dozens of other highway projects in the state remain incomplete,” said an official.
Experts cite major problem as that the government has no vision plan considering its potentials. The government had failed to attract investments in those sectors.
Justice K Chandru, retired judge of Madras high court, said Jaya-lalithaa should take the challenge of implementing an anti-corruption ombudsman agency, Lokayukta, and Right Of Citizen To Time Bound Delivery Of Services Act in the state. “Law and order situation also has to be improved at a time when attack on Dalits and political murders are on a steady rise,” he said.
Source:: Indian Express