Only 4% of people in Tamil Nadu have got both the doses of vaccine against COVID-19, which is translates to 29 lakh people out of the state’s 7 crore population. So far, 1.43 crore people have taken their first dose.
On the other hand, the COVID-19 infection rate is on a constant decline. Tamil Nadu reported 3,039 cases and 69 deaths on July 9, taking the cumulative case tally to 25.13 lakh and death toll to 33,322.
The political heat is also high in the state as both the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are gearing up to expand their base in the western districts of Tamil Nadu. This region is the stronghold of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), the opposition party in the state. The newly appointed BJP Union minister L Murugan and the new BJP state President K Annamalai are from this region.
On the other hand, in a recent event held in Chennai, DMK chief MK Stalin expressed his willingness to welcome other party leaders from this region into the DMK.
Meanwhile, protest demonstrations were held across the state condemning the death of political prisoner Father Stan Swamy while in police custody.
COVID-19: VACCINE DRIVE STUTTERS FROM SHORT SUPPLY
Vaccination centres in many districts were closed throughout the week as the state continued to receive limited vaccines from the Centre.
Nearly 1.7 lakh people took the vaccine on July 5, but it dropped to 51,532 the next day and further to 28,270 people on July 7. After receiving fresh stock, the numbers increased to 46,812 doses on July 9.
Tamil Nadu health secretary J Radhakrishnan met the Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan in New Delhi on July 9 and urged him to increase vaccine stock for Tamil Nadu. Radhakrishnan said the Centre has promised to supply 15.87 lakh doses of vaccines within July 12.
In a letter to Union health and family welfare minister Harsh Vardhan on July 5, Chief Minister MK Stalin urged the Centre to revise the 75:25 allocation format of COVID-19 vaccines to government and private institutions. He demanded that 90% of the doses be given to the state-run facilities.
Though the COVID-19 cases are steadily decreasing, the Tamil Nadu government is being cautious and has extended the lockdown till July 19. The state has further eased restrictions, but to keep a check on the infection, it continues to widely ban recreational activities.
AGITATIONS CONDEMNING STAN SWAMY’S DEATH
CPI(M) and VCK leaders in a demonstration in South Chennai
Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)), Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) and few other political parties together held protests demonstrations on July 8 condemning the death of Jesuit priest Stan Swamy, who was a political prison accused in the Bhima Koregaon violence.
They demanded that all those arrested in Bhima Koregaon and other cases with “political motives”, particularly under draconian laws such as the UAPA, should be released.
SANITATION WORKERS DEMAND JOBS
Conservancy workers protesting in Ambattur
On July 8, about 300 conservancy workers gathered outside the Ripon Building in Chennai protesting the alleged dismissal of contract workers under the National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM) scheme after privatisation of 11 of the 15 Corporation zones. The workers want the government to help them find a reliable source of livelihood. The protesting workers were reportedly manhandled by the police.
Two days before, on July 6, GCC conservancy workers in north Chennai staged a large demonstration in Ambattur demanding regularisation of their jobs. With their contract ending by the middle of this month, the workers demanded urgent intervention by the state government.
BJP’S GAME PLAN IN TAMIL NADU
It appears that the BJP is eyeing on expanding its ground in Kongu Nadu, the western region of Tamil Nadu. The party’s high command has favoured two leaders from this region for important positions in the Union government and in the party.
Tamil Nadu BJP chief L Murugan, who hails from the Namakkal district in Western Tamil Nadu, was inducted into the Union Council of Ministers as a Union Minister of State for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying along with MoS Information & Broadcasting on July 7. Murugan contested the recent Assembly elections from Dharapuram constituency in Erode district, also in Western Tamil Nadu, and lost by a close margin.
Replacing Murugan, former IPS officer and BJP state vice president K Annamalai, a native of Karur from West Tamil Nadu, was appointed as Tamil Nadu BJP president. He formally joined the party only in August last year, and lost the 2021 Assembly elections contesting from Aravakurichi constituency in Karur district of Western Tamil Nadu.
MEMBERS FROM OTHER PARTIES FLOCK DMK
In an event held on July 8 in Chennai, R Mahendran, former vice-president of Kamal Hassan’s party Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM), joined the DMK in the presence of party president MK Stalin. It is said that over 200 MNM workers joined the DMK besides some AMMK workers and AIADMK leaders.
Stalin said that had Mahendran, who hails from Pollachi town in Coimbatore district, joined the party before the Assembly elections, the DMK would have secured a big win in western Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK stronghold.
‘WITHDRAW DRAFT CINEMATOGRAPHER BILL’
On July 6, MK Stalin wrote a letter to the Union Law Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad urging the withdrawal of the proposed amendment to Cinematograph Act, 1952. The letter was written a day after the Tamil Nadu Film Producers Association met him seeking his intervention in the issue.
The film fraternity opposes the amended law because it allegedly gives the Centre powers that might threaten freedom of expression – a constitutional right in the country.