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HomeOpinionPolitically CorrectPalaniswami-led Tamil Nadu govt springs surprise with stellar Covid-19 crisis management

Palaniswami-led Tamil Nadu govt springs surprise with stellar Covid-19 crisis management

While Kejriwal has grabbed headlines, it’s Naveen Patnaik in east, Uddhav Thackeray in west and Palaniswami in south who have outperformed all in Covid crisis.

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Tamil Nadu has discovered a ‘new’ chief minister, someone who was seen until recently as a bad legacy left behind by late J. Jayalalithaa. He has put up a fight against Covid-19 nobody thought he was capable of.

The numbers speak for themselves. After Maharashtra and Delhi, Tamil Nadu has the third-highest tally of confirmed cases in India — 1,075 as on Sunday. Of these 971, or 90 per cent, are linked to the infamous Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi. Eleven people have succumbed to the coronavirus in the state so far but the death rate — around 1 per cent — is one of the lowest in India.

Had it not been for the Tablighis, these numbers would tell a different story about the much-discredited AIADMK regime. Chief minister E.K. Palaniswami seems to have discovered himself—just when everyone had written him and his party off as far as May 2021 assembly polls are concerned.

Also read: Why Maharashtra has India’s highest Covid-19 mortality numbers

Critics appraising EK

Ask a Tamilian whether he/she is satisfied with how the state government has dealt with the crisis. The response may come as a surprise. “Yes, for a change, they (AIADMK government) have handled it well. They reacted long before other states or even the Centre did. The CM has been hands-on and so has been his health minister (C Vijaya Baskar). They have ensured there is no panic situation,” a lawyer friend of mine, practising in Madras high court, told me over the phone.

I was a bit taken aback, for he was never a fan of Jayalalithaa or her party colleagues who are running the government now. He would describe the current crop of AIADMK leadership as “a bunch of dishonest jokers with no vision” and cite the rising crime graph, unemployment and official apathy to dengue outbreaks to justify his dislike for the Palaniswami government.

Not that the lawyer has changed his views about the AIADMK leadership. He himself is surprised by Palaniswami government’s alacrity in responding to the Covid-19 crisis. “It’s probably because it’s a matter of life and death for them in politics.” Tamil Nadu bureaucracy, though identified on political lines because of which every change of regime witnesses a rush for Central deputation, is also known to be efficient and often makes up for the follies of their political masters.

Well, be as it may, but Palaniswami has certainly chosen to use the coronavirus to try for an image makeover. He and his health minister have been visiting hospitals to take stock of the preparedness in Covid-19 wards. The CM made a surprise visit to an Amma Canteen to check the quality of food and whether social distancing is being maintained.

The CM removed his dairy development minister K.T. Rajendra Balaji as Virudhunagar district secretary of the AIADMK after he suggested in a tweet that Covid-19 punished those who made fun of Hindu gods and traditions.

Unlike in other states where many Tablighi Jamaat members went into hiding, the CM ensured that those from Tamil Nadu reported themselves for testing.

Also read: Kejriwal meeting with Delhi BJP MPs turns into blame game on tracing Tablighi Jamaat members

Tamil Nadu, the first to respond to Covid-19 threat

Tamil Nadu government was the first to swing into action to deal with the coronavirus threat—even before Naveen Patnaik government in Odisha. Tamil Nadu health department officials were keeping tabs on those coming from abroad even before the first Covid-19 positive case was reported from Kerala on 30 January. On 30 January, Tamil Nadu government informed that 78 people, who had come from China, were under house quarantine; they tested negative later.

The first Covid-19 positive case was reported on 7 March and the second one on 19 March. But by 17 March, the state administration was all geared up to tackle the menace, with the chief secretary issuing an elaborate set of instructions to all government departments and institutes, including the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPEs) and masks, constitution of ‘contact tracing teams’ in districts, use of thermal scanners at entry and exit points at railway stations, and setting up of helplines, among others.

Tamil Nadu announced a lockdown in the state a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared it in a televised address.

Also read: Delhi to Kerala — State response to Covid-19 makes it clear India needs a new health policy

How Arvind Kejriwal and other CMs delayed

To appreciate the promptness and alacrity of Palaniswami, one needs to compare him with his counterparts in other states. Let’s take the example of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, the most visible face on TV channels and in newspapers since India woke up to the threat of the coronavirus. The national capital reported the first Covid-19 positive case on 3 March after a businessman returned from Italy and threw a party on his son’s birthday, leading to the closure of three schools in Delhi-NCR.

Even as the city was abuzz with talks about coronavirus, Kejriwal, flanked by two doctors, addressed a press conference on 8 March. “Healthy people don’t have to wear masks,” declared the Delhi CM, seeking to discourage the people from going for panic-buying of masks and sanitisers.

The doctors endorsed him, saying that the masks gave “a false sense of security” and “predisposed” the wearers “to chances of infection”. One of them recommended the washing of hands with soap or “even with plain water”. Kejriwal then informed that there were three cases in Delhi by then and one more case was under investigation. The three infected persons had “come in contact” with 287 people, said the CM.

To buttress his point about the inutility of the masks for healthy people, Kejriwal recommended wearing them “if you are infected or if you get touched by quarantined people.” Greeting the people on Holi on 10 March, the Delhi CM tweeted, “Holi khelte waqt apna khyal rakhen. Corona se bach kar rahen. (Take care of yourself while playing Holi. Stay away from corona).” It was paradoxical and therefore, appeared to be more like a pun targeted at the advocates of social distancing.

These utterances suggested that at least for a week after the first Covid-19 positive case in the national capital, the Delhi CM wasn’t inclined to treat the coronavirus threat with the seriousness it deserved.

Of course, in subsequent days and weeks, he was all over the headlines with his near-daily media interactions. Incidentally, four senior government functionaries had to become scapegoats for what was essentially the AAP government’s gross mismanagement of migrant crisis.

Also read: Money not problem, availability of PPE is: Arvind Kejriwal responds to Gautam Gambhir

But Kejriwal better than most

Unlike his Tamil Nadu counterpart, the Delhi CM has chosen not to venture out in public much—not even to inspect the mohalla clinics where two doctors got infected for want of protective gears. He can’t be faulted for this though. He had stayed away even when North-East Delhi was burning. Some CMs prefer to govern from office and home while others prefer to be ‘in the field’ in critical times.

It’s probably unfair to single out Kejriwal for comparison with Palaniswami. In fact, the Delhi CM has done as well as, if not better than, many of his counterparts from other states, including Nitish Kumar of Bihar, Shivraj Singh Chouhan of Madhya Pardesh and Yogi Adityanath of Uttar Pradesh, among others. But, that’s beyond the scope of this article.

Views are personal.

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  1. Absolute crap of an article. Just a disclaimer that ‘ views are personal’ won’t help.

    Ask people living in Tamil Nadu to endorse these achievements! Such a stupid spineless Governance..

  2. Mr.EPS has surprised the people of TN even before COVID. He has been receiving accolades for being easily accessible to the people and being considerate to the opinions of IAS officers. This has been the case with neither Jayalalitha nor Karunanidhi. We were pleasantly surprised that he didn’t hesitate to close TASMAC well before COVID worries gathered momentum. After maintaining silence for a long time, he has been quite vocal and giving fitting responses to the opposition in the recent past. Mr.Stalin was quite sure that he will be the next CM but it is not so obvious anymore.

  3. Kejriwal had to stop the Religious meeting and huge gathering at Nizamudhin. Probably, kejriwal did not stop it to please the Minority. HM Shah did not interfere, due to fear of back lash from Opposition, and Minorities, as had happened in the case of CAA. Finally the poor Citizens had to pay a huge price. This is Politics. This was actually the work through 42nd amendment of Indian Constitution in 1976. We are not enjoying the Constitution, authored by Honb’le Ambedkar, and passed by our Constitution Assembly, though the credit of Constitution goes to him. But the preamble is changed.

  4. Who is this guy D K Singh ? Are these the kind of ‘opinions’ you write for a consideration ? It’s not even close to a ‘considered’ opinion. The Print, by publishing such low quality articles, you’re credibility is getting a serious dent.

  5. and resist the temptation to make it communal. all religions, all sects, all faiths have spread it. and as far as jamaat issue is concerned Shri D.N. Singh knows that Maharashtra cancelled a similar event on march 14. Mr. Kejriwal and the home ministry led by Shri Amit Shah will have to answer a lot of questions regarding the permission and belated action on 27 march allowing things to deteriorate. March 11 Kejriwal declared emergency and on march 13 Home under Shah declared that there is no emergency. The jammat congregation was just 100 m away from the police station. There is something more to the story than what meets the eye. Mr D. N. Singh should marshal courage to critically analyse these facts if he has the courage to do it. Instead of falling into the trap of the govt to shift blame , both kejriwal and central govt especially Amit Shah, to divert the inordinate delay in reacting to the evolving situation. Come on Sir. Show some spine.

  6. even while broadly agreeing with the author, the conscious or in-advertent, i do not know, omission of any reference to the performance of the Kerala Govt and Pinarayi Vijayan is beyond my understanding . The first state to declare an emergency, 20000 crores package, strict control, least no of deaths, and yesterday the no of recoveries were more than the number infected and under treatment. Still the author has chosen to ignore. Understandable. Reporting is not opinion making influenced by one’s own likes and prejudices but dissemination of unbiased news leaving the judgement to the readers. Journalistic ethic. Unfortunately D.N. Singhji for whom I have great regard has been found to be wanting this time. The print is absolutely justified in its anti left position and i respect it but when you are giving news please be impartial.

    • Shri Sekar Gupta must ask the central govt regarding the February 21 modi trump bonhomie in gujarat in which lakhs of people gathered. please remember WHO declared a pandemic in February well before this grand show. and on February 22 jaggi vasudev , a known cronie of the present establishemnt organised maha shivrathri shivir in which thousands of foreign bhakts and lakhs of local bhakts paraticipated. Coimbatore has the second hgihest number of infected persons. Any connection? were the foreigners who came tested and wht was the resutl. Come on. Fearless journalists like Shri Gupta and D. N. Singh should ask these questions to the powers that be. And the vice president of the nation attended it. I am a regualar reader of print and continue to do so. But my belief and faith in your impartiality is getting a big knock. Sorry for that

  7. Why bring Tablighis in this story? IS UK demonising ISKON? Is France demonising the Evangelical church? Is any one apart from Trump demonising New Yorkers? Yet, all these groups have contributed substantially to the spread of the disease in their respective countries. And why forget Kerala? They have done exemplary work!



    Disclaimer: Views are personal

  10. Dear Shekar Sir, pls refrain from such ill informed opinion makers, let him come down to Kerala and understand what are preventive measures and the results, Kerala has controlled from 42 cases to 2 today. This is a story to report !!

  11. Hi,
    I belive most of so called “Journalist ” tumb up to CM’s are whetehr they r doing press conference daily or not.Not releated to increase in count/death happening in that state .

    Just taking top 5 states.All thetop 4 states are doing great becasue they r doing daily press conference .
    Maharashtra close to 2000 and every day count is increasing 200+
    Delhi 1000+ and every day count is increasing 100+
    Tamil Nadu 1000+ and every day count is increasing 100+
    Rajasthan close to 1000 and every day count is increasing 100+
    Madhya Pradesh close to 700 and every day count is increasing 100+

  12. The sole purpose of article was to call out the inefficiencies of few chief ministers by endorsing an unlikely one, I felt. Ignoring Kerala and the efforts taken by the state from January 30th onward come as a surprise for me! Being a research scholar in one of the University in Delhi, the lack of seriousness was way too evident in dealing with Covid 19 by many states including Delhi. The kind of war front put up by Kerala in dealing Covid has come to Delhi only after the Janta Curfew and lock down period! I guess the author should call out inefficiency of various chief ministers rather than endorsing one against the other. Kerala has set an example, so does Bhilwara from Rajasthan. It is the same Tamil Nadu which discharged few of its Covid patients over a clerical mistake! Moreover, the number of reporting has to be assessed before making any conclusions! It will be good if some pieces appear on states like Kerala and Odisha which dealt with the crisis in a better way. Thanks!

    • You are absolutely right. Even i was wondering what happened to the good work done by Kerala in this fight against CORONAVIRUS and COMMUNAL VIRUS.


    • Sir, Kerala’s commendable job is being praised world wide for sure. I think the main purpose of this article is to highlight EPS govt’s success which the author feels is not being done anywhere. But Kerala’s achievement is now known at International level.

  13. I dont know what facts, numbers, data made the writer of the article think that Kejriwalji did better than Nitish Kumarji, Yogi Aditynathji & Shivaraj Chauhanji. With no data mentioned i am assuming its probably a figment of writer’s imaagination.
    As to other aspects mentioned in the article Thiru Palanisamy did a great job as did Naveen Patnaikji. Uddhav Thackeraji?? I doubt.

    • The CMs mentioned by you are doing great job by not doing sufficient number of testings. The policy of these states is;
      The more tests are done detection and numbers of positive will possibly be higher in UP, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, etc.

  14. Yes. It was a surprise for many in Tamil Nadu including me. These guys are trying hard to prove their capabilities. They seems successful as of today.

  15. I disagree…

    Testing rates in tamil nadu are the worst in India…. This government is all about hushing up things and cover ups… Yes they all give interviews daily and make their faces seen in media but that doesn’t mean the government is doing fine….. For me kerala which reported the first case and greatly brought down new infections and deaths are doing a good job….

    I don’t know how a media can praise a government which doesn’t provide proper PPE and lets its doctors contract the Virus (10-15 doctors have contracted the virus ) as proper functioning unless paid to publish….

    • Wrong. This is targeted testing. TN only scans people who were first quarantined, then scan people who’ve had symptoms. Not like other states (except Kerala) where you scan every tom dick and harry. Once the primary group, immediate relatives and secondary contacts were scanned, testing was expected to go big bang. This is evident from the fact that 1600 people who had SARI were scanned in the last 2 days and NONE had tested positive for corona . That speaks the level of maturity in distinguishing between an real suspect and a false suspect. So in this line TN govt is blessed with good bureaucrats and a good health infrastructure. And your claim that 10- 15 doctors got virus needs further inspection. It is a combination of doctors and nurses. Most of the docs were private practitioners and private hospitals, especially 2 in tuticorin and coimbatore. PPE’s were not provided to sanitation workers (of course its a blot) . And your accusation that this is a cover up is applicable for all states and countries.
      The one thing which is not good in TN (like in Kerala and Karnataka) is unity among politicians. DMK has played some disgusting politics through their supportive media like Nakkeeran by turning the tablighi incident as a hindu muslim war by equating this with Sadguru’s Esha event only to have egg on their face. This absolutely stopped the govt from going hard on people who attended the event.
      By and far with an honest view EPS has done a better job than Jayalalitha in her tenure on how the chennai floods were dealt or Karunanidhi when every possible land was looted and people were forced to sell their lands.
      Praising Kejriwal is just ridiculous

  16. Shocked to say he did better than others. This man did not bother to implement Physical Distancing measures well in advance. Waited for election win. Did not bother to even offer solace to those who were killed in North East Delhi. If he had implemented Physical distancing not in public places but even in Places of worship, the event in Nizamudin coulf have been forced to cancel and Msrquaz (hostel could have been cordoned off). Though he got overwhelming support to retain the power, he failed them and now taking shelter under pretext of TJ like other failed CMs

  17. Sir, pls look down to further which was first state to report Covid and the first state to flattened the curve with more CURED than Covid positive. And being the state with more than 35% NRIs predominantly from gulf region who is the most vulnerable. Kerala model is a talk of the planet now… and you have no mention if it!!!

  18. Absurd dk singh .in praise of kejriwal when hes main culprit for entire country spread…please stop eulogoising stupids

      Rich Passport holders brought virus,
      Poor Rashancard holders bearing price.

  19. “Tamil Nadu, the first to respond to Covid-19 threat”
    This is factually incorrect. The first COVID19 case was reported in Kerala on 3rd January 2020 followed by the immediate response of the state. Its okay that you give biased reports. But give based on FACTS!!!!

  20. Surprising that Mr. Pinarayi Vijayan and kerala is not even in the honorable mention category. Bizzare biased reporting!!

  21. R u on drugs…..? U r not just paid media, but slave media.

    The most callous state as far as COVID 19 management is concerned. Forget 90%, why don’t u blame everything on Tablighi jamaat event….. If there is one state that can compete for absolute mismanagement then mr.palaniswami would be top.

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