MK Stalin Government focuses on new initiatives
The first 100 days of M K Stalin as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu indicates that his focus is on governance.
The first 100 days of M K Stalin as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu indicates that his focus is on governance. One appreciable decision he had taken was to put an end to criticising the previous regimes and indulge in rhetoric discussing what happened in the past.
He appears to be determined to prove that his government is different from the previous regimes. The way he has been moving ahead shows that his method is even different from the style of functioning of his father Karunanidhi.
The very first major challenge he had confronted soon after taking oath as Chief Minister was to handle an aggressive Covid-19 second wave.
He himself had taken up surprise inspection, made midnight calls to ministers and MLAs to review the situation and give necessary instructions and roped in the previous health minister in AIADMK government. While Stalin had shown statesman like quality by roping in the former health minister, the AIADMK leader too displayed equal magnanimity by extending his cooperation in handling the pandemic. Neither of the parties indulged in politicking nor did they blame each other.
The pandemic was treated with the concern that was required and this earned praise to both Stalin and the AIADKMK. What one needs to learn from Tamil Nadu is that they believe that government is continuous process whichever party is in power. They don't try to destroy the ongoing schemes or erase what the previous government had started.
Once the situation got stabilised, Stalin came up with a white paper on the critical financial condition of the state and rolled out number of scheme and policy initiatives. The new chief minister took all necessary measures to tone up the government machinery which included taking measures to new investments to finding quick solutions to various issues that were before him. High speed but safe driving proved to be his hallmark during the first 100 days. Governance and Deliverance was his strategy.
Just two months after assuming power, while chairing the meeting of the Economic Advisory Council composed of world-renowned experts, Stalin made his ambitions very clear and indicated that he has the political will to take hard decisions to put the State economy back on track. Stalin aims at a one trillion economy by 2030 and make Tamil Nadu the most investor friendly region in South Asia. He has been quick in approaching the Kitex Garments which is in the business of manufacturing and exporting infants' garments to shift Rs 3000 crore investment to Tamil Nadu. The project later was lost to more aggressive Telangana. But this indicates how the new government is keen in making the state an industrial hub.
As the state is likely to see a debt of Rs 5.7 trillion during the current financial year as compared to Rs 4.5 trillion in in 2020-21, the state government has come with a road map of keeping fiscal deficit within 3.5 percent of the SGDP in 2022-23 as part of medium term fiscal plan. He also announced setting up an economic advisory council with former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan, Noble Laureated Esther Duflo, and Arvind Subramaniam, former chief economic advisor among others.
The biggest challenge before Stalin is to steer the state out of revenue deficit in next few years. This means that the government should go in for measured borrowings and that too only for productive purposes or else the economy would land in a precarious situation. This could even mean that the government may be left with no option but to hike power tariff.
What needs to be seen is whether Stalin who had raised the expectations of the people during first 100 days of DMK government can sustain the image. Apart from steering the state of financial crisis, the biggest challenge for the government is the impact of Covid-19 on all sectors in the state.
The second wave created another crisis. Shortage of vaccines, oxygen and beds caused a series of crises. The government now claims that they have upgraded the infrastructure and that the state was ready for any wave. Stalin in a recent interview claimed that beds were added and that he personally visited new wards. "We ensured that every hospital had adequate oxygen facilities," he said.
The government also needs to focus its attention on the Education sector which had taken a beating during the Corona pandemic. Moreover, a new competition from Telangana has emerged as many private engineering colleges and universities have come up restricting the movement
Of course, it is a testing period. Government needs to live beyond the image it had created in first 100 days and sustain the image that it is a people's government.