Political uncertainty in TN leaves industry worried

R Balaji Chennai | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on June 09, 2017

‘Officials unable totake decisions; govtmachinery paralysed’

“There is definitely a lull, nothing is moving,” says a senior executive in a multinational manufacturing unit, commenting on the mood in Tamil Nadu in the context of the overall political scenario.

A cross-section of industry leaders, including those in traditional manufacturing sector and new age industry, say the mood is one of despondence. “Approved projects are not being awarded,” said one. “Who do we talk to, the government is splintered, bureaucrats are unable to take decisions,” says another.

The State government seems to have gauged the mood because in recent days, officials have been talking to senior industry leaders, urging them to represent their cases and asking what needs to be done, said the senior executive while requesting that his name not be disclosed.

It is important that Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami comes out with a strong statement, assert he is in command, he said. At the heart of the issue is the uncertain political situation in the State. Tamil Nadu has always prided itself on political stability. Either of the Dravidian parties, whether the AIADMK or the DMK, which has been in power over the last five decades, has highlighted this stability as a feature that contributes to an industry-friendly environment.

Now, that has taken a beating.

Leadership change

The ruling AIADMK has been in the throes of a change in leadership for over six months now, after Chief Minister and party supremo J Jayalalithaa died in December. O Panneerselvam, who took over as Chief Minister after her death, stepped down within two months and after much drama Palaniswami was sworn in the Chief Minister in February. Still, his position is not secure and that is leading to all the uncertainty in government and among the bureaucrats.

The AIADMK is split into three factions — one in power under Palaniswami, whom majority of the Cabinet support; another led by former chief minister Panneerselvam, and, a group that expresses loyalty to TTV Dhinakaran, Deputy General Secretary of the AIADMK, who is out on bail in a bribery case. Reports indicate he wields influence over 20-30 MLAs, including a few ministers in the Cabinet. The general secretary of the party VK Sasikala, is in jail on being convicted in a case of amassing wealth. Panneerselvam’s faction wants both Sasikala and her nephew out of the AIADMK; Dhinakaran, who initially agreed to step aside from AIADMK has said nobody has the power to remove him except the party’s general secretary; and in the chief minister’s camp, Finance Minister D Jayakumar has stated that both do not have a say in the government and Dhinakaran should step aside as committed.

Little wonder that a senior industry representative commented, “the government can fall under the weight of its own contradictions.”

Published on June 09, 2017
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