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TN This Week: COVID-19 Deaths Decrease, Factional Feud Continues in AIADMK, Protest Against NEET and NEP Intensifies

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has started its election campaign for the upcoming Assembly elections. which are likely to be held April/May 2021, with an online membership drive and a target to enrol 25 lakh members.
TN This Week: COVID-19 Deaths Decrease, Factional Feud Continues in AIADMK, Protest Against NEET and NEP Intensify

The total COVID-19 cases in Tamil Nadu reached 5,30,908 on September 18, with the stagnation of fresh cases continuing in the past week. The number of deaths has decreased considerably over the last two weeks, with the total casualties reaching 8,685.

The three days Assembly session concluded on September 16 with lesser discussion on issues concerning the people while the Makkal Pathai organisation is continuing its indefinite hunger strike for the sixth day demanding the scrapping of the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Examination (NEET). Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] has sought action against Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Sandeep Mittal for his political tweets supporting the right wing forces. NewsClick brings a roundup of the happenings across the state this week.

COVID-19 DEATHS DECREASE WITH STAGNATION IN CASES

The number of fresh cases continued to be stagnant with a marginal drop in numbers. The past seven consecutive days saw cases ranging between 5,400 and 5,800, a phenomenon existing for the past few weeks. The number of deaths remained below 80 during the week. The number of cases in the Greater Chennai Corporation crossed 1.5 lakh with 3,037 casualties.

The number of children treated in the state stands around 45,000 as per the information released by the state Minister for Health and Family Welfare while the number of people above the age of 60 contracting the infection increased to 69,011. The discrepancies in COVID-19 data of the state continued to exist, but the health secretary has pointed to the duplicate entries for the difference.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) headquarters have announced that 63 doctors have succumbed to the viral infection in the state.  

ELECTION FEVER GRIPS PARTIES

The leadership tussle in the AIADMK is peaking with the Assembly elections due in April/May 2021. The two factions, led by Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam (OPS), have continued flexing their muscles over the Chief Ministerial candidate.

The coordination committee meeting held on September 17 had concluded without any solutions being arrived upon and the party has decided to convene its executive committee meeting on September 28 to sort out the issues. The OPS faction seemed to insist on the formation of the steering committee which was agreed upon during the unification of the two factions. Both the factions are itching to gain the upper hand with the elections around the corners.

Meanwhile, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has started its election campaign with an online membership drive, with a target to enrol 25 lakh members. The party has also announced that 1,00,000 members have registered in three days time. The DMK camp seems to be taking advantage of the infighting within the AIADMK, which could turn the table in its favour considering the strong alliance arithmetic. 

INDEFINITE HUNGER STRIKE AGAINST NEET

The opposition to the NEET continues to increase, with 'Makkal Pathai' continuing its hunger strike for the sixth day. Five volunteers of the organisations are continuing the strike demanding the scrapping of the exam for the students of the state. The state has reported 13 suicides since the introduction of NEET in 2017.

The volunteers of the organisation prevented the police from removing the people sitting on hunger strike. The Assembly session which concluded on September 16 has passed a bill providing 7.5% reservation for the students educated in government schools, but the opposition parties and student organisations continue to reiterate the demand for scrapping or exemption from NEET. See More

CPI(M) DEMANDS ACTION AGAINST ADGP

The CPI(M) Tamil Nadu state committee has sought action against the ADGP Sandeep MIttal for his continuous pro-Hindutva tweets. He had retweeted an article with the comment ‘Not Just Ram Temple’ on July 30, praising the foundation stone laying of the Ram Temple. The Tamil Nadu cadre officer, who is on leave after the completion of his central deputation, had also retweeted the CPI(M)’s statement seeking action against him. He has accused the IPS association for falling into the trap of 'urban Naxals' for unfollowing him on twitter. The party has written to the Chief Minister, Home Secretary and the Director General of Police on the repeated tweets in favour of the sangh parivar's political ideology.

In another tweet on August 23, the ADGP had stated that the leftist and Islamist ideology has “raped” India’s golden history for centuries. The tweet was made in response to the book published on the Delhi riots. The CPI(M) has sought action based on the service rules of the civil servants, prohibiting them from making political comments in public forums.

MISSING FISHERMAN TO RETURN AFTER 53 DAYS

The 10 missing fishermen from Kasimedu hamlet in Chennai are set to return home after 53 days with the help of Myanmar coast guard. The fishermen went missing on July 23 and the news of their rescue came only on September 14, much to the joy of their families. They are expected to return home in a few days time as the Ministry of Fisheries has requested the Ministry of External Affairs to bring them back.

The engine of their boat had malfunctioned on the third day of journey and the boat owner was informed on the same day. Even after a complaint was registered by him, no concrete measures were taken to rescue them, the members of the hamlet alleged. After 53 days, the boat reportedly reached the Myanmar waters after crossing the Indian and international maritime borders.

The fishing community has long been complaining of the apathetic attitude of the state and Union governments in tracing the missing fishermen. The technological facilities also have repeatedly failed the governments in extending timely help to the fishermen. They also alleged that if the appropriate agencies were pushed to service immediately after the complaint was lodged, the fishermen would have been rescued.

TN ASSEMBLY SESSION CONCLUDES

The Tamil Nadu Assembly concluded its three days session on September 16, with 23 bills being passed along with the supplementary budget. However, while the issues on NEET and National Education Policy (NEP) are raging, the government refrained from constructive steps to address the concerns except for the 7.5% reservation for students educated in government schools in undergraduate medical admissions. The government has repeatedly insisted on its commitment on following the two language policy and the DMK’s demand for a special session on NEP was rejected.

Academicians have expressed disappointment over the bifurcation of Anna University into two for research and affiliating engineering colleges. The existing university would be renamed as Anna Technological and Research University and the new university would be named as Anna University. The university was collecting funds from conducting exams and affiliating colleges, forcing the ATRU to depend on funds by increasing the fee for students.  Read More

TNUEF PROTEST ON PERIYAR BIRTH ANNIVERSARY

The Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF) and other dalit rights organisations held protest demonstrations across the state on September 17, the 142nd birth anniversary of the social reformer E V Ramaswamy ‘Periyar’.

The protesting organisations have accused the Union government's NEP of excluding the socially and economically backward classes from access to quality and affordable education. The organisations chose the protest date to recollect the exemplary contribution of Periyar in the fight against the untouchability practices and ensuring education for the socially backward people.

The TNUEF alleged that the conduct of examinations even in the primary and middle school level will only add to the mental stress of the students. Such exclusion will force the students to assist their parents in their jobs, resulting in the bringing back of the ‘Kula Kalvi Thittam’ (Hereditary/Caste Education scheme) which was opposed by Periyar, the organisation alleged. 

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