New Delhi: In a fresh show of amiability towards the Opposition, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin has decided to retain the photos of former AIADMK CMs Jayalalithaa and Edappadi Palaniswami on 65 lakh school bags that are meant for free distribution among children in the state.
The “magnanimous” move, which is being lauded across the political spectrum, came as the CM sought to save the Rs 13 crore that would have been required to replace the bags.
It is common practice for ruling parties to replace the markers of the Opposition from public schemes after coming to power.
However, DMK chief Stalin, who took over as CM in May, directed his School Education Minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi to retain the photos of the former CMs and use the money saved on some other welfare scheme for students.
“I received a lot of complaints from partymen [about the photos]. When I brought it to the notice of the chief minister, he told me that I had become a minister, and could not speak like a partyman. If I want to discuss politics, I could visit Arivalayam (DMK headquarters),” Poyyamozhi said in the state assembly Thursday.
Speaking to ThePrint about the decision, DMK Rajya Sabha MP Tiruchi Siva said the great gesture showed Stalin’s “magnanimity”, and highlighted that he was not “mean-minded”.
“Thalaivar, right from the beginning, has been very cordial with all parties and alliance partners. This style of governance is similar to Anna’s (ex-CM Annadurai) of including everyone. He felt that the Rs 13 crore could be put to better use in some other scheme, so it was a very practical decision,” Siva said, adding that one could expect more such decisions from Stalin in the coming days.
The opposition also commended the move. Senior AIADMK leader J.C.D. Prabhakar said it was a good move, which indicated the ruling DMK’s changed attitude towards the opposition. He also recalled that Stalin had made similar gestures before.
“This is a good decision to not remove the photos of Amma and EPS. Stalin even earlier called for the restoration when the Amma Unavagam (canteen) was vandalised and her photo removed. He got it restored,” said Prabhakar.
“However, it is not surprising as if they change the photos then people would question why they are wasting so much money,” he added.
Inclusive style of politics
This isn’t the first time that the newly-elected Tamil Nadu CM has extended a friendly hand to the opposition in an inclusive style of politics.
At the height of the second Covid wave in mid-May, just days after he took oath as CM, Stalin convened an all-party meeting to bring everyone on board to tackle the rising number of cases. AIADMK MLAs were seated next to state ministers on the podium in Coimbatore to review the Covid situation.
The CM tweeted, “Covid does not discriminate based on political affiliation and, as public servants, we are morally obliged to stand united in this fight. Urge all parties across the country to work together to defeat the pandemic. #OndrinaivomVaa (let us come together).”
He even appealed to MLAs to bury political differences to help fight Covid together in the state. In a multi-party Covid advisory panel he appointed, Stalin retained C. Vijayabaskar, the former health minister from the AIADMK.
This political bonhomie was first visible when, shortly after he was elected CM, he sat at the same table at an event as former deputy deputy chief minister and AIADMK leader O. Panneerselvam.
DMK workers also recall how Stalin was among the first few to reach the funeral of AIADMK leader Madhusudan earlier this month.
(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)