The first session of the 16th Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly started on June 21 at the Kalaivanar Arangam in Chennai. Over the next few days, heated debates have taken place between the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) over which party has performed better.
Chief Minister M K Stalin declared that the cases filed during the previous government’s term against the peaceful protesters speaking up on issues such as state, Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), farm laws, neutrino, etc. will be withdrawn.
The state has rejected two central government initiatives this week. CM Stalin opposed the Indian Ports Bill, 2021 stating that it dilutes states’ powers. Tamil Nadu also turned down applications from the Indian government-owned ONGC for oil wells exploration in the state.
The state witnessed another cruel incident of police brutality where a farmer pleading for mercy was beaten up, and was declared dead soon after.
COVID-19: DELTA PLUS VARIANT SPREADS
The number of fresh COVID-19 cases and related deaths has significantly decreased in Tamil Nadu; the state reported 5,415 cases and 148 deaths on June 26.
Further lockdown relaxations were approved for 27 districts facilitating opening up of public transportation even as the government extended the COVID-19 lockdown till June 28.
Tamil Nadu has the second highest number of Delta variant cases in the countrywith nine cases reported on June 26. The first is Maharashtra with 20 such cases. The state has also registered its first death due to the variant after a patient from Madurai succumbed to the infection.
The Tamil Nadu government had left out at least 2,012 COVID-19 cases due to “data entry error”, and added them to its registry on June 22.
Meanwhile, industrial units with export commitments, such as global carmakers Renault-Nissan, Hyundai Motor Co and Ford Motor Co, have commenced operation with 100% capacity despite workers’ protests over safety amid the pandemic.
TN ASSEMBLY DEBATES
While addressing the current crisis owing to the pandemic in the state, CM MK Stalin accused former CM Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) of negligence in handling the situation, which, he said, has led to the spread of the virus in the state.
Opposition leader EPS criticised the government for the acute power cuts in the state and said: “We saw no such power cuts during our AIADMK regime”. Electricity minister V Senthil Balaji lashed back saying that the previous government has in fact failed in taking up maintenance for nine months, which has led to disruptions in power supply now.
BJP, meanwhile, expressed concern over the use of the words “union government” in reference to the Centre. Stalin asserted, however, that it was being used as it had a connotation of federalism and said there is no one need to be alarmed by it.
CASES ON CAA, FARM LAWS PROTESTERS TO BE WITHDRAWN
Addressing the assembly on the first day, Chief Minister Stalin promised withdrawal of many cases filed by the previous government.
Cases against media houses and people who protested in a democratic manner against the three farm laws promulgated by the Centre, the CAA, methane extraction, neutrino project, Kudankulam nuclear power plant, and the Chennai-Salem Expressway project are said to be withdrawn.
CAG REPORT: BIG LOSSES IN AIADMK REGIME
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India's (CAG) report has flagged undue benefit to contractors, extra and wasteful expenditure besides loss to the exchequer in the state. The audit on Tamil Nadu government undertakings, tabled in the Assembly on June 24, reports loss of crores of rupees. Read more
STATE REJECTS INDIAN PORTS BILL
The Tamil Nadu government on June 24 opposed the revised Draft Indian Ports Bill, 2021 in the present form, saying it will “dilute” states' powers vis-a-vis management of minor ports.
MK Stalin on June 22 wrote to nine chief ministers proposing that all the coastal states and union territories oppose the draft and take joint action to prevent any move to dilute the powers already vested with the states.
ONGC’S APPLICATIONS REJECTED
The Tamil Nadu State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (TNSEIAA) on June 21 rejected an application by the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd (ONGC) to drill and explore five oil wells in Cuddalore and 10 wells in Ariyalur districts.
These applications stirred up a controversy, as environmentalists, farmers, and the ruling party in the government have declared opposition to any form of hydrocarbon exploration in the Cauvery basin.
5-MEMBER ECONOMIC ADVISORY COMMITTEE FOR STALIN
To rescue the debt-ridden economy and balance it with social welfare measures, the DMK-led Tamil Nadu government set up a five-member council to advise MK Stalin. The members include big names such as Nobel prize winner Esther Duflo, and former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan. Read more
COP BEATS UP MAN TO DEATH
Periyasamy, a special sub-inspector (SSI) in Salem district, was arrested and booked for murder after he indiscriminately beat up A Murugesan, a 47-year-old farmer, with a lathi on June 22, who was declared dead soon after.
The incident is a chilling reminder of the deaths of Jayaraj, a trader, and his son J. Bennicks after they were beaten up to death at a police station in Thoothukudi a year ago.
AIADMK EXPELS MORE MEMBERS
Five more members of the AIADMK have been removed from the party for allegedly establishing contact with former General Secretary VK Sasikala. Read more
GOONDAS ACT FILED AGAINST KISHORE K SWAMY
Kishore K Swamy, a self-attested political activist who has already been arrested, was detained under the Goondas Act on June 25.
He was arrested on June 14 for circulating defamatory videos and comments against CM M K Stalin and former CMs and late DMK leaders C N Annadurai and M Karunanidhi.