Jayalalithaa catalysed industrial growth in TN

R Balaji Chennai | Updated on January 16, 2018


When Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa stormed back to power in the 2016 Assembly elections, industry looked forward to one major benefit: continuity of policies.

That’s because Jayalalithaa’s winning of a second consecutive term in office broke an electoral trend of nearly three decades during which the AIADMK and the rival DMK had alternately come to power. The deep-rooted political animus between the two Dravidian parties had frequently led to situations in which each stymied the initiatives of the other after coming to power.

The stagnation in power generation capacity in the State is a case in point: each blamed the other, and Tamil Nadu became a victim of the political cross-fire. Public transport was another: the DMK pushed the metro rail, while the AIADMK’s pet project was the monorail.

So acute was the rivalry that after she came to power in 2011, Jayalalithaa converted the new Secretariat Assembly building and State government office blocks, built by the DMK, into a hospital and medical college.

On every occasion that one party or the other came to power, considerable time was expended in picking holes in the other’s policies. Much time and resources went into mutual allegations of corruption and squandering of resources: the DMK government slappedcorruption cases against Jayalalithaa and her Cabinet members after she lost power in 1996; on the other hand, the AIADMK accused the DMK of bankrupting the State.

Therefore, when history of sorts was made in 2016, things were expected to be different.

Jayalalithaa had laid the groundwork in her her previous tenure. The industry policy had been revamped, sector-specific policies had been announced to catalyse the automobile and auto components industry, information and communication technology and biotechnology.

The Tamil Nadu Global Investors Meet of September 2015, a high point of that tenure, was to bring in over ₹2.42 lakh crore in investments across diverse manufacturing and service sectors.

Vision 2023 document

She had come out with a Vision 2023 document, a plan for long-term infrastructure-driven social and economic development. It envisaged attracting ₹15 lakh crore in investment in infrastructure to make the State an attractive destination for more investments in manufacturing and service. It saw the private sector as a significant partner in building infrastructure. To shore up private sector confidence, she set up the Tamil Nadu Infrastructure Board with a statutory structure and funding ability.

As far back as in her first term as Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa kicked off a key phase of industrial development in Tamil Nadu when she enticed Ford Motor Company to set up shop in the State.

That marked the emergence of Tamil Nadu, particularly Chennai and its suburbs, as a hub of automobile and auto components manufacturing, with more than half a dozen multinational players setting up factories. These included Hyundai Motor, BMW, Daimler, Renault, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Wright bus, apart from Yamaha and significant expansion by Royal Enfield, along with traditional players such as Ashok Leyland, TAFE and TVS Motors.

To the new administration falls the task of sustaining the momentum of industrial development that Jayalalithaa oversaw.

Published on December 06, 2016

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