If only AIADMK Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswamy paid half the attention he pays to filing cases against his political opponents, especially DMK leaders, to containing the galloping coronavirus cases, Tamil Nadu would not have become the second worst affected state in India.
As of 30 May, Tamil Nadu registered 20,246 positive cases and Chennai city 13,362 cases. Considered India’s leading ‘medical tourism’ destination State, private hospitals have been licensed to fleece patients afflicted with coronavirus while government hospitals barring a few are ill equipped to cope with the grim situation.
Instead of paying attention to improving facilities in government hospitals and putting a leash on private hospitals, Palaniswamy’s attention is focused on the DMK poised to capture power in the coming Assembly election due in less than a year.
At the outset of the corona pandemic, MK Stalin, leader of the DMK, asked the Chief Minister to convene an all-party meeting to draw up a strategy to fight the epidemic jointly, sinking political differences for the time being. Palaniswamy would have none of it.
Wanting to show that he is a man of original ideas, the Chief Minister last month announced a sudden four-day ‘double lockdown’ for Chennai and four other cities where all essential supplies, including drinking water supply, would remain closed and no one would be allowed to step out of his house even for a breath of fresh air.
Worried people of Chennai wanting to stock up provisions for the four-day ordeal rushed to the city’s wholesale market at Koyambedu. It triggered a massive spurt in coronavirus cases.
In order to divert attention of the people from his State government’s failure to contain the spread of coronavirus, a Bollywood-style pre-dawn arrest of RS Bharathi, MP, organising secretary of the DMK, was staged last Saturday under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act for a speech made more than 100 days ago.
A sitting member of the Rajya Sabha, the 71-year-old DMK leader has filed a series of complaints against Palaniswamy and other senior AIADMK Ministers with the Department of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption. Saturday morning arrest is a strategy evolved by the AIADMK to keep its opponents behind bars for at least two days as they could move for bail only the following Monday.
The magistrate before whom Bharathi was produced for remand could see through the game and granted him immediate interim bail much to the chagrin of the Chief Minister. The government’s move to get the bail order cancelled is pending before the Madras High Court.
Similar cases have also been filed against two more senior DMK leaders, Dayanidhi Maran and TR Baalu, both former Union Cabinet Ministers. The High Court has restrained the police from taking any coercive steps against them.
The DMK has formed seven legal teams to assist leaders fight fictitious complaints registered against them by the ruling AIADMK. It is about time Palaniswamy rose to the occasion and concentrated on tackling the coronavirus menace.