Written by Advocate V. Ganesh Babu B.A, B.L (Hons)
Muthuvel Karunanidhi Stalin, the dravidan doyen, stormed to power in May 2021, amidst a raging pandemic in Tamil Nadu where people were suffocating in every sense of the term. With shortage of oxygen cyclinders, dearth of hospital beds, death ever-increasing, Tamil Nadu was in the middle of one of the worst human crisis it faced in the last few centuries. The fact that Tamil Nadu was going through such a mayhem despite priding itself on a world-class public health infrastructure, bore testimony to the magnitude of the catastrophe caused by the previous AIADMK government’s policy paralysis. That’s when M.K. Stalin, took over the reigns of Tamil Nadu, took it upon his shoulders to be the man of the moment; the Messiah of the masses.
Fast forward to 150 days after Mr. Stalin assumed office, with covid cases and casualties steadily dwindling, it is safe to say that Tamil Nadu is back on its feet. From bureaucratic ground work to domain-specific initiatives to much needed policy intervention, M.K. Stalin led Tamil Nadu’s covid war from the front – living true to the title “Thalapathy” bestowed upon him by his followers, which literally means “The General”. Immediately after taking charge, he dispatched all his ministers to their respective districts on special covid duty. Ministers steered the local administrative engine on the ground, with the chief minister monitoring daily progress on a war-footing.
Understanding that the health workers are the foundation of Tamil Nadu’s chances during this covid calamity, the Government started out by boosting their morale through various incentives as a rightful acknowledgement of their invaluable service. As a mark of his respect for health workers and to express his support & solidarity for them, M.K. Stalin became the first political leader in the country to step inside a covid ward which overwhelmed the Tamil people with the mixed feeling of pride, anxiety and gratitude. With that important gesture, Mr. Stalin conveyed his personal commitment to the people. At that very moment, cutting across the political spectrum, people of Tamil Nadu knew that they can count on their leader and that he has sworn allegiance to make it a personal mission to save and protect them.
Voice for vaccines
Mr. Stalin went to unprecedented extent like floating global tenders for vaccines and inspecting the Integrated Vaccine Complex in Chengalpattu to weigh the possibility of Tamil Nadu manufacturing its own vaccines, all in a hope to get the people of Tamil Nadu fully vaccinated as early as possible. Despite the fact that those bold steps did not come to fruition, they did set a glorious example for the rest of India on of how assertive a Chief minister can be even within a pseudo-federal constitutional setup like India. He was instrumental in initiating the protest against the Union Government’s vaccine policy and differential pricing, which lacked both fiscal merit and basic common sense. It created a spontaneous political ripple effect across the subcontinent and it eventually forced the Union Government to make amends to a great extent by agreeing to distribute free vaccines to the states. That is just one account of how Mr. Stalin’s crucial federal voice benefitted not just Tamil Nadu, but all other states as well.
Historic Vaccination Drive
By aggressive vaccine drive, propelled by Tamil Nadu’s public health infrastructure, and also through the announcement of nation’s first collaborative joint effort with private hospitals by using CSR funds for free vaccine scheme, the state’s rate of vaccination rose at a staggering pace. With recently implemented weekly mega vaccination camp, Tamil Nadu is rewriting history by breaking all vaccination records and by crossing all the benchmarks. Two days ago, the state crossed the terrific feat of administering 5crore vaccines. Such a rigorous vaccination drive is the secret of Tamil Nadu’s covid success story which has been lauded by both Madras High Court and the Supreme Court on three different instances. ‘Makkalai thedi maruthuvam’ scheme which offers free medical care at the door step for people, is the new crown jewel of Tamil Nadu’s public health system.
Social Welfare Schemes
It is to be noted that every section of the society is covered by Government’s social welfare schemes. Mr. Stalin grasped the gravity of the economic distress caused by lockdowns. The DMK government announced country’s largest relief measure through universal public distribution system. The government provided Covid Relief Kits containing 14 grocery items to about 2.11 crore family cardholders in the State to help them cope with the lockdown period. Before this, the Tamil Nadu government disbursed Rs.4000 in two instalments for all the rice card holders. World renowned economists like Dr Raghuram Rajan and Dr Amartya Sen repeatedly emphasized on the need to “put money in the hands of people” in order to spur public spending which can lead to the eventual revival of the economy. Mr. Stalin alone had the wisdom and foresight to pay heed to that sound advice.
The journalists were recognised as ‘frontline workers’ which was extolled by democratic forces across the country. Above all, the DMK government devised a very special scheme for children who had lost either one or both of their parents in the pandemic. The Chief Minister, with his heart in the right place, announced that a sum of Rs.5 Lakhs will be deposited for children who lost both their parents in the pandemic and that the child will receive the money with interest after they attained the age of 18years. He went on to add that the state government will sponsor the education of these children including tuition fees and hostel fees till they complete graduation. His level of humanity and compassion paved the pathway for other states to follow suit.
Free bus scheme for women and transgenders which he sanctioned within few minutes of swearing-in as the chief minister, is the first of its kind in India. It is widely hailed as a ‘socio-economic masterstroke’ aimed at mass emancipation of women, which not only opens various opportunities for them by democratising public transport, but also aids women to save up to Rs. 3000 per month and thereby guarantees solid social security. The Government reinvigorated Women Self Help Groups through adequate fund allocation and administrative support.
With Separate budget for agriculture, free electricity connection for 1 lakh farmers, concrete steps towards export promotion with an electrifying slogan of ‘make in Tamil Nadu’, signing of memorandum of understanding (MoUs) at an Investment conclave with 35 companies for the investment to the tune of Rs 17,141 crore in order to create employment opportunities for 55,054 people, housing schemes for the marginalised section, commencement of new infrastructural projects, Chief Minister Stalin has left no stones unturned in striking a perfect balance between rural and urban economic growth with a human touch, by also keeping long term environmental goals in mind.
Irrespective of who was in power in Tamil Nadu, Dr Kalaignar remained the undisputed leader of the World Tamils for almost 50years in moral, political and practical sense of the term. Chief Minister M.K Stalin has made it very clear that he is all set to take over that throne when he announced several schemes for Sri Lankan Tamil Refugees in Tamil Nadu and also the non-resident Tamils across the globe. The schemes are historic in form and holistic in content.
Regarding Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, Mr. Stalin emphatically declared, “They are not orphans. We are there for them. From now on Sri Lankan Tamil Refugee camp will be called as ‘Sri Lankan Tamil Rehabilitation camp’ “. He went on to announce numerous schemes amounting to Rs. 317.4 crores for the welfare of the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, including housing, provision of basic amenities and educational schemes. The State government allocated Rs. 231.5 crores to reconstruct 7469 camp houses which were in dilapidated condition. Mr. Stalin increased the already existing scholarships to students pursuing various courses and also introduced an employment skill development program for about 5000 youngsters living in the camp.
Stalin government announced that a welfare board for non-resident Tamils would be constituted as per the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Non-Resident Tamils’ Welfare Act, 2011, which was enacted during Kalaignar’s regime. He announced that the welfare board would have 13 members, including officials and representatives from the non-resident Tamil community. The Tamil Nadu Non-Resident Tamils’ Welfare Fund would be created with an initial corpus of ₹5 crore.
With unprecedented initiatives like data base of non-resident Tamils, a centre to provide legal aid to non-resident Tamils, MoUs to facilitate them to deposit and invest in government and other industries and cultural exchange, Chief Minister Stalin has announced his arrival in style by taking his rightful throne as ‘the leader of the World Tamils’.
M.K. Stalin is the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, but that is not the only reason why Brahminical forces are losing their sleep over Stalin. What is more disturbing to them is that Mr. Stalin is not just functioning as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, but also as the undisputed leader of the Dravidian Movement.
His politics and policies are deep-rooted in the basic Dravidian tenets like Social justice, Women empowerment and State autonomy. The prolific manner in which he casually incorporates these ideals in his regular politics and public administration, is clearly making Brahminism a casualty on daily basis. That is what the sanghis are upset about.
Since the times of Periyar, Anna and Kalaignar, the Dravidian Movement has a century long well-seasoned reputation for effectively countering the socio-political and economic oppression of brahmin hegemony. M.K. Stalin is carrying forward that legacy with foresight and finesse. For instance, ever since he took over as the Chief Minister, Mr. Stalin has been referring to the BJP-led NDA Government as the “Union Government”, instead of Central Government. This may look just like a subtle variation in terminology, but it has the political potential to kindle the vital debate about the transactional terms between the Union and States. Such vibrant discourses on ‘State autonomy’ were in vogue during the times of Anna and Kalaignar. That is exactly what M.K. Stalin has reignited all over again.
Moreover, be it the case of strongly opposing the fraudulently enacted reservation for Economic weaker section, or voicing out for the restoration of State powers to maintain their own OBC list, or ideologically lambasting New Education Policy and discriminatory entrance exams like NEET, every single battle for social justice in Indian Subcontinent is being led from the front by Chief Minister M.K. Stalin.
The way he is meticulously constructing the pan India anti-NEET platform by trying to educate other states on how NEET is not only against social justice but also against State autonomy, is the hallmark of a fierce leader who is dare enough to take on the brahministic bull by the horns. Organisations like ‘Bangla Pokkho’ have started to demand West Bengal Government to oppose NEET. Maharashtra Government has already announced its decision to constitute a committee, like Justice A.K. Rajan Committee of Tamil Nadu, to study the social impact of NEET. Anti-NEET voices have already begun to emerge in Jharkhand. This is the impact of M.K. Stalin and his ceaseless crusade against all forms of brahministic oppression.
While Kalaignar nationalised public transport, Stalin has gone ahead with announcing free bus for women and transgender. While Kalaignar laid the legislative foundation for priests from all castes, Stalin has successfully appointed non-brahmin priests, thereby nullifying centuries old oppression validated by vedic ‘agama’. While Kalaignar initiated ‘Samacheer Kalvi’, Stalin is planning for an independent Education Policy for Tamil Nadu.
Post 2014, the Brahminical injustice against the non-brahmins has been more blatant. From truncating state rights, to swindling our kids’ educational rights, to running amok over our fiscal rights, RSS declared an all-out war against Tamil Nadu. And now it’s payback time!!
Kalaignar was responding kindly, but Stalin is responding in Kind, for which poor sanghis have only got themselves to blame for.
If the ultimate measure of a leader lies in what he leaves behind, then Kalaignar can be very proud of what he has left behind for Tamil Nadu – a strong social justice force in DMK, under the stable and scintillating leadership of Stalin.
Yes, the enemies of social justice are absolutely right about their fears of M.K Stalin. When they cry saying, ‘Stalin is more dangerous than Karunanidhi’, that’s not just a compliment for Chief Minister Stalin, but also for the Dravidian giant Kalaignar too.
Love you Kalaignar!
Long live Stalin!