The EPS govt. should fix both the State’s economy and the cracks within the party
In addition to fighting the perception that there is a leadership vacuum, the present AIADMK government, which completes two years in office on Tuesday, faces two principal challenges: eluding cohesion within the ranks of the party and a State economy that is in need of an impetus.
The talk of supporters of Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam sulking is doing rounds as many of them have been left in the lurch in the elections to cooperative bodies. Mr. Panneerselvam was also not invited for the recent public functions in which the Chief Minister participated. The Deputy CM was also not seen at many official review meetings chaired by Mr. Palaniswami in the run-up to the resumption of budget session of the Assembly next week.
However, Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar rubbished reports of any differences between the two camps. He blamed “vested interests and political rivals” for seeking to create a “myth of disunity.”
On the economic front, the State’s progress continues to be driven by the service sector, which reported a 9.48% growth during 2017-18. The share of industry was 7.79%. Within the industries sector, manufacturing reported a modest 7.63% growth.
Asked about the government’s big achievement on the industrial front in the last one year, Industries Minister M.C. Sampath, known for keeping a low-profile, gave a cautious reply. He said the government would shortly announce a tie-up with CEAT Tyres, which will put up a new plant on the outskirts of Chennai. As for the number of companies that received all clearances under the 2017 law on business facilitation, the Minister said six firms had secured the required approvals.
‘A sea change’
Despite a widely-held perception that the State government is not doing enough on the business front, the government has some admirers too. Said K. E. Raghunathan, national president of the All India Manufacturers’ Organisation (AIMO): “For the last three months, we are witnessing a sea change in the way the government functions. They [the government] are prepared to listen to us. Now, I will be able to get an appointment with the Chief Minister if I get in touch with his office for a meeting with a group of potential investors. If the same trend continues, Tamil Nadu will see a great improvement.”
He observed that the manner in which the State government had grabbed an opportunity to host an exhibition on the proposed defence corridor was also “commendable.”
Shyam Sekhar, who runs an investment management firm, said the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax had helped plugging loopholes in a big way and Tamil Nadu would be one of the major beneficiaries.
At the same time, Mr. Raghunathan added that the Tamil Nadu Small Industries Development Corporation and the Tamil Nadu Industrial Investment Corporation needed to improve their performance. On the other hand, R.S. Bharathi, DMK organising secretary, is not impressed with the government’s performance in the last two years and he contended that the government had only carried out those projects and schemes initiated when the DMK was in power (2006-2011). “There is nothing of substance that they [the government] can boast of,” he quipped.