The opposition parties, part of the Secular Progressive Alliance (SPA) in Tamil Nadu, held a one day hunger strike on December 18 in solidarity with the protesting farmers. Earlier in the week, the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) held sit-in protests in front of all district collector offices demanding the repeal of the laws and has called for a massive rally on December 29.
While, the COVID-19 fresh infections continued to drop in the last week, a new cluster has been identified inside the Indian Institute of Technology- Madras (IITM) campus, where around 200 students have tested positive.
The state government also launched a new healthcare programme, by announcing 2,000 mini clinics to be set up in rural and urban areas, however, outsourcing and redeployment from existing facilities have raised doubts over the possible election sop of the government. NewsClick brings a round up of the happenings in the state this week.
HUNGER STRIKE OF OPPOSITION PARTIES
The opposition parties, led by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), held a one-day hunger strike in spite of denial of permission from the state government. The state government has been under attack for its undeterred support to the farm laws, despite claiming to be farmer friendly.
The opposition leaders unleashed an all out attack on the state and Union governments for betraying the farmers. They also condemned the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) including union ministers for branding the protesting farmers as ‘anti-nationals’ and ‘Maoists’.
The leaders also accused the state government of blocking the farmers and party members of the neighbouring districts of Chennai from participating in the hunger strike. The state government is also accused of using force to suppress the peaceful protests of the farmers.
DMK leader M K Stalin accused the Union government of working in the interest of the corporates and leaving the farmers in their mercy. The SPA has announced to continue the struggle against the farm laws in different forms, until they are repealed. Read More
MASSIVE KISAN RALLY ON DECEMBER 29
The AIKSCC in Tamil Nadu has given a call a massive rally in Thanjavur on December 29. The farmers across the state, particularly from the delta districts—the rice bowl of the state, a highly fertile region known for the cultivation of a wide range of paddy varieties are expected to participate in the rally in large numbers.
The organisation will also pay tribute to the farmers who have lost their lives in the ongoing protests on December 21 in all the districts. The AIKSCC accused that the state government is trying to continue the projects including the Chennai- Salem green corridor project and laying of pipelines in fertile lands, against the consent of the farmers.
The farmers have held a sit in protest for three days since December 14, in front of all the district collector offices, despite severe police action.
Meanwhile, the solidarity protest in the state continued with the participation of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) and trade unions. Many civil society organisations also held solidarity marches and protests, demanding the withdrawal of the farm laws. Read More
ELECTION FEVER GRIPS PARTIES
All major political parties in the state have begun their campaign for the Assembly elections, due in May 2021. The DMK leads the campaign trails, as the party is continuing the virtual meetings of the party in every Assembly segment. The party has fuelled its online campaign projecting the failures of the state and Union governments. It is banking on the anti-incumbency factor and the alliance arithmetic to capture power.
The ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) also began its campaign from December 19, with Chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) kickstarting the campaign from his home town of Salem. Notably, the city has been witnessing protests against the Chennai - Salem green corridor project for long.
The state government has granted permission for public meetings, including political and religious events from the same day despite the pandemic, a move not considered a coincidence by many. Other political parties have found the going tough even for small protests due to the restrictions of the state government in connection with the COVID-19 threat. The internal squabbles in the ruling party seems settled for now, but trouble still brews on the issue of allying with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Following AIADMK’s announcement to ally with the BJP, the later seems to have moved towards actor Rajinikanth. The actor, however, after announcing his political plunge, is busy shooting for his next film in Hyderabad. He has assured to announce the name of his political party on December 31.
Makkal Neethi Maiam (MNM), led by actor turned politician Kamal Haasan has begun the election campaign from Madurai. However, there are still many doubts over his prospects with the political observers questioning the actor’s reach beyond certain urban pockets. Haasan has announced that he would be contesting in the Assembly elections.
He also got involved in a war of words with EPS, regarding his films and the ‘Big Boss’ show hosted by him. The actor has been vocal against the Dravidian parties, but has not called names of any particular party or leaders so far. The tension could escalate as the CM has been ridiculing the actors for their political ambition.
COVID-19: IITM RECORDS AROUND 200 CASES
The state continued to record a much lower fresh infection of COVID-19 in the past several weeks. However, the IITM campus in Chennai has become a new hotspot of fresh infections, with 191 students and staff contracting the infection since December 1. All the departments have been shut down after the outbreak.
Six students of Anna University, residing in the hostel have also tested positive. The government has decided to test the inmates of the hostels across the state. The educational institutions in the state reopened from December 7.
The total infections in the state crossed 8 lakhs this week, with 8,04,650 total infections. The number of active cases on December 18 stands at 9,781 with 7,82,915 discharges and 11,954 casualties. Only Coimbatore district and Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) clocked more than 100 cases on Friday, December 18.
The total infections in GCC increased to 2,21,587 with 3,037 active cases and 3,938 casualties.
NO RESERVATION FOR FACULTY IN IIT?
The recent recommendation to do away with the reservation for faculty positions in IITs have created a fresh controversy. The All India Federation of Other Backward Classes Employees’ Welfare Associations (AIOBC) has written a letter to the Minister for Education to drop any such recommendations to exempt IITs from implementing reservation policies for OBC, SC and STs in faculty recruitments”.
The association has pointed out the abysmally low number of faculty from OBC, SC and ST category in the IITs/IIMs and demanded to reject the recommendation of the committee set up by the Ministry of Education.
ChintaBar, a recognised student body of the IITM, has opposed the recommendations of the committee to do away with reservations. The statement of the student body accused the report as ‘utterly disappointing’ and added that the “IITs should delve deeper into the problems and issues of under representation rather than coming up with regressive proposals to withdraw reservations”.
The central executive committee of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) has also demanded the rejection of the report of the committee. The statement emphasised on “ensuring adequate faculty representation from the backward classes and the marginalised groups is necessary for achieving an inclusive learning atmosphere in the campuses”’
MINI CLINICS: AN ELECTION SOP?
The much hyped Mini Clinics by the state government seems to be a hastily designed project in the wake of the Assembly elections. While claiming to extend healthcare to rural and urban population, the government has redeployed doctors from other healthcare units including Primary Health Centres (PHC), threatening the existing facilities.
The announcement of deploying one doctor from PHCs, where there are lesser patients and deliveries in rural areas has also created apprehension. Not only that, the government has deployed doctors from other crucial sections, including the Mobile Medical Units (MMU) and the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK).
The Tamil Nadu Government Doctors’ Association (TNGDA) has rung the alarm bells in a submission to the Secretary of Health. The possible increase in working hours and lack of necessary infrastructure in the proposed mini clinics have been pointed out. The Tamil Nadu Village Health Nurses Association (TNVHNA) has questioned the move of the government to commence the mini clinics close to the PHC in certain areas. Read More