Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E K Palaniswami today said his government was working with the sole aim of public service by “smashing all hurdles before us.” In his address after unfurling the tricolour at Fort St. George here on the occasion of the 71st Independence Day, the CM said his government’s slogan was ‘all-round development’, inspired by late chief minister J Jayalalithaa. It was his first Independence Day address as CM after taking over in February following a revolt in the AIADMK, Palaniswami recalled the contribution of freedom fighters from Tamil Nadu and announced raising their pension from Rs 12,000 to Rs 13,000. The family pension provided to their kin would be hiked from Rs 6,000 to Rs 6,500, the Chief Minister said.
“We are working with the sole aim of public service by smashing all the hurdles before us, with the slogan of all- round development,” Palaniswami said, though he did not elaborate on the “hurdles”. However, it comes at a time when he is locked in a tussle with his AIADMK (Amma) faction’s sidelined Deputy General Secretary TTV Dhinakaran, who launched state-wide public meeting yesterday in an apparent show of strength. Recently, the Amma faction had questioned the authority of Dhinakaran in the party affairs, days after he had appointed his aides to key posts, and had asked party workers not to give credence to those appointments. Since then, Dhinakaran has been issuing veiled warnings to Palaniswami on the fate of the government.
The party had already suffered a split in February when former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had revolted against its chief VK Sasikala, now in jail in a disproportionate assets case, alleging he was forced to make way for her to the state’s top post. A keenly anticipated merger of the two factions, headed by Palaniswami and Panneerselvam, is also witnessing a delay. Palaniswami, who described late CM Jayalalithaa as the “eighth wonder of the world,” said she led the state on the path of development and as a result Tamil Nadu was progressing fast in many sectors. That is why the people of the state gave her successive mandates, the Chief Minister said. The current government is carrying forward the work initiated by her, he added.
He said that late Jayalalithaa and party founder M G Ramachandran were patriots and that is why they could take the state on the path of development. He said the success of Independence lies in easy availability of individual needs such as food, education and jobs. “On that count, Tamil Nadu has made tremendous development. It has progressed in all sectors.” He mentioned various welfare initiatives of his government including on education, public health, agriculture and fisheries sectors. He said the state is a preferred investment destination, thanks to uninterrupted power supply, skilled labour and other favourable factors.
Later, he gave away various awards, including the Kalpana Chawla Award for Courage and Daring Enterprise. The award was presented to S Preethi, a former captain of the Tamil Nadu U-19 cricket team. An accident had left her a quadriplegic and confined to a wheelchair, but she had reached out to persons affected with spinal cord injuries through her trust ‘Soul Free’, the government said. “This trust has been transforming the lives of people affected with spinal cord injuries through employment, vocational training, education and development,” it said. She was being presented with the award for “her mental grit reconciling her physical status reaching out to the needy,” it added.