The budget session of the Tamil Nadu assembly concluded on September 13. The ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) managed to hog the limelight by passing resolutions against the three farm laws, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and exemption from NEET for medical aspirants.
However, the policy notes and announcements, including those on school and higher education, labour and skill development, welfare board for workers and formation of commission for Adi Dravidar welfare have left several questions unanswered.
The principal opposition in the assembly, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) failed to make an impression and missed the chance to question the unfilled promises of the DMK.
The trade unions, academicians, and contract and ad hoc workers of government departments have questioned the DMK on its poll promises being left unaddressed in the budget session.
A divided AIADMK is unable to highlight the failures of the DMK government in fulfilling its own poll promises, making the DMK outshine despite its shortcomings.
‘UNFULFILLED PROMISE ON PERMANENT JOBS’
The DMK in its election manifesto made several promises under labour welfare. The party promised to provide permanent employment for ad-hoc and contract workers working in public sector entities and government agencies for more than 10 years.
The policy note on labour welfare and skill development failed to address the promise made by the DMK. The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), in a statement, expressed disappointment over the failure of the policy note in addressing the demands of the contract and ad-hoc workers.
“There are workers on contract, daily wages and consolidated wages in different departments. There is no announcement on the scheme workers including Anganwadi, ASHA workers. No announcement has been made on permanent jobs as mentioned in the election manifesto of the DMK,” the statement said.
CITU also accused the government of failing to address concerns raised by the beneficiaries of the welfare boards. “The demands on providing relief for the workers affected due to the pandemic have not been considered,” the CITU statement said.
The DMK has been making tall claims on fulfilling its election promises and celebrated its 100 days in office with much merry. The government published a list of achievements, but in reality, protests continued from different sections of the workers.
The workers of the nutritious meals scheme, the Tamil Nadu Government Pensioners Association, and contract workers of the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) held protests seeking the implementation of their long-pending demands.
POLICY NOTE ON EDUCATION FALLS SHORT OF EXPECTATION
The policy notes on school and higher education fell well short of the expectation of the academicians. Apart from announcements on budgetary allocations, the policy notes failed to address the threats of the national education policy (NEP).
“The higher education minister listed out the universities in the state, which is known to everyone. The school education minister could not provide details of students enrolled in private, aided and unaided schools,” said Prince Gajendra Babu, general secretary of State Platform for Common School System.
The policy notes also failed to address the threat of the NEP, which the DMK has opposed tooth and nail since its introduction.
“The policy note detailed the achievements of the government and did not address the challenges ahead,” Prince added.
The AIADMK did very little to address the holes left in the policy notes and resorted to walkouts from the assembly more often. During the demand for grants for higher education, the AIADMK walked out citing the merger of Jayalalitha University with Annamalai University. But, the party failed to raise issues pertaining to the welfare of students and improving the infrastructure of schools.
WELFARE COMMISSION FOR ADI DRAVIDAR
Another major announcement from the government came in the form of the setting up of a welfare commission for Adi Dravidar (scheduled castes) and tribals on September 9.
Chief Minister M K Stalin made the announcement under rule 110 which does not require any discussions. The government announced the setting up of four new special courts at Salem, Krishnagiri, Madurai and Tirunelveli since these districts have more pending cases related to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The announcement was welcomed by the dalit rights organisations and political parties, considering the high number of atrocities against dalits and tribals.
“The implementation of laws has always been a problem. The SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was implemented in 1989, but the conviction rate is below 6%,” K Samuvel Raj, general secretary of the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF), told Newsclick.
The AIADMK, instead of exposing the failure of the DMK government to keep its poll promises, resorted to walking out of the House on multiple occasions. The party also lacked coordination on the floor as the internal feud between Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneer Selvam remains far from settled.
The DMK was left unchallenged, though several of its poll promises, including permanent jobs, abolition of NEET, financial aid to women of all families, and reduction of tax on diesel, remained untouched.