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DMK govt will take strict action against all corruption: MK Stalin

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Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Muthuvel Karunanidhi Stalin or M.K. Stalin, as he’s popularly known, has said that the DMK government under him would take stringent action against all corrupt practices and will not allow any corrupt individual to go scot-free.

He said that there is no politics of vindictiveness or vendetta but only legal actions against those who had indulged in corruption and added that it was the promise to the people of Tamil Nadu by the DMK before the elections. He said that his government is on the development path for Tamil Nadu and that the trillion-dollar economy for the state is not a distant dream. He was speaking exclusively to IANS in an online interview.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q: DMK government under you has completed 100 days in office. Do you feel that you have lived up to the expectations of people?

A: Generally, the first three months or the first 100 days of a government is called the honeymoon period but this was not the case when the DMK government came to power this time. It was a time of great crisis and the impact of the second wave of Covid-19 was severe. The financial situation was deplorable due to the administrative irregularities and corrupt attitude of the previous AIADMK government. As soon as we took responsibility, we began the process of fulfilling the promises made to the people. Promises were immediately fulfilled in the interest of the people, such as the Corona Relief Fund, free food kits, free travel for women on city buses, and a reduction of 3 rupees per liter in the price of petrol. Petrol price has been reduced by Rs 3 per liter in the Budget and we catered to all the immediate essential needs of the people. As I said in the Assembly, I will not deceive you by saying that we have fulfilled all our promises, but I can assure the people of Tamil Nadu that this government will work resolutely and diligently in gradually fulfilling all the promises made during the election.

Q: When you assumed office the Covid-19 pandemic was ravaging the state, with a daily fresh cases touching up to 30,000. How did you overcome the challenge?

A: The previous AIADMK government failed to fully control the first wave. It also did not care much about the impact of the second wave. When we assumed power after the successful electoral hustings, Covid-19 pandemic was spreading and had shot up to 30,000 fresh cases a day, and the situation was alarming. The death toll was also high. We thought of controlling the infection and reducing the number of deaths as the first duty and started the activities even before taking office. I had discussions with the officials even before the results were out as well as before the swearing-in as the whole of Tamil Nadu and the world was witness to it.

However, from the day the government was sworn in, we carried out the work in full measure and worked 24 X 7 without a break. The situation was pathetic, we could see ambulances lined up at the gates of hospitals as there was shortage of oxygen, and oxygen cylinders were not available. The patients and their families were in great tension and the situation was tough and we also had fear and apprehensions as to how to handle the situation. It was a tough time — we acted in the hope that it was not an insurmountable period and brought the situation under control in about a week. This was made possible by the concerted effort and the full cooperation of the officers and the medical department and the Cabinet of Ministers. All worked in unison and brought the situation under control and we had a clear plan from day one and we executed it properly. It was a team effort in the end.

Q: You have assumed office after a lull of ten years out of power. What lessons have you learnt as a political leader who was out of power and has come to power?

A: The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is a movement that works for the people whether in power or not. Despite not being in power for 10 years, the people realized that it was the strong foundation and development plans laid by the previous DMK government that had saved Tamil Nadu to this extent. The reign of Kalaignar Karunanidhi was people-centric and based on the lives of people from all walks of life and the overall development of Tamil Nadu. Our activities were aimed at regaining the confidence of the people. During the disaster, we supported the people through the ‘Come Together’ campaign. Despite the lack of administrative power, the DMK was the ruling party in the minds of the people. Now, it is the ruling party with power. We continue to work for the people with full dedication and commitment and taking proper feedback from the people of Tamil Nadu on the steps we are taking for the betterment of the people’s lives as well as the all-round development of the state of Tamil Nadu.

Q: The TN economy is in a massive crisis with debts of more than 5 lakh crore and you are planning for a trillion-dollar economy. Is it possible?

A: Every time the DMK government is in power, it is customary to reform the economic structure and increase financial resources. That situation did not exist when the AIADMK came to power for various reasons. The debt of Rs 5 lakh crore is the result of the worst administrative corruption in the last 10 years, especially in the last 7 years. Our government is working hard to improve the financial situation. There is hope that we will fix it in two to three years. Not only that, we are working towards the goal of trillion dollars as we move towards the path of economic growth. Any long journey starts from the first step and we are certain that our first has been taken with confidence and determination. When the DMK government continues for 10 years in office, Tamil Nadu will be on track to achieve its economic goal. People will definitely give us that opportunity.

Q: The DMK government has taken a hugely popular measure by reducing petrol prices by Rs 3 per litre amidst the financial woes. Your comments?

A: The state government has slashed the price of petrol by Rs 3 per liter in the midst of the severe financial crisis, realizing that the hike in petrol prices could affect people from all walks of life and the overall functioning of the state. Thus, Tamil Nadu is the only state in India to have reduced the price of a liter of petrol. The Finance Minister has said that petrol sales have increased after the prices were slashed. This price reduction is done because it will increase business, production, and working hours and bring about a positive change in the economic environment. More than all these, it will help the people a lot by saving 3 Rs per litre on petrol. It is big as far as the common man is concerned and we worked exactly for helping the common man by reducing the rate of petrol.

Q: DMK government is drawing flak over the issue of NEET with the opposition charging that you made unrealistic promises during elections. What’s your response to this?

A: The firm stand of the DMK as a political party is that the NEET should not be allowed to shatter the medical dreams of the students of Tamil Nadu. As you know, students in Tamil Nadu had committed suicide after not getting admission to medicine by not qualifying in NEET. In this context, it is to be noted that not only the DMK, former Chief Minister and AIADMK leader, late J. Jayalalitha also did not allow the NEET. After her passing away, the AIADMK Government deliberately became submissive and subservient to Delhi and allowed NEET by distorting the stand of the people of Tamil Nadu to safeguard their Government. The Bill passed jointly by all parties in the Assembly against NEET was ignored and rejected by the Union Government and it was not disclosed to the public and had kept it a secret. This is the main reason for all the problems. They have no moral right to criticize us. In order to remove NEET legally in Tamil Nadu, we, the government of the DMK, have constituted a committee headed by retired Judge A.K. Rajan and appropriate action will be taken after considering the recommendation of this committee. Our government will fulfill all the promises given by the party before the elections, and it will not be like the false promise to give free cell phones to the people by the previous AIADMK Government.

Q: The 2021 Assembly elections were the first one after the passing away of one of the towering leaders of Indian polity, M. Karunanidhi, your father. How was your feeling when you were fighting the elections without his presence?

A: I really miss Kalaignar Karunanidhi, my father. Every one of our party cadres who are my siblings misses him just as I miss him. It is indeed a pain that Kalaignar was not here to see this victory of the DMK with a thumping majority and the DMK coming to power for the 6th time in the state. Even if he is not alive and in person, the politics he has taught, the policy path he has led, his tireless work all guide me and the DMK. That is why we have won the 2019 Parliamentary elections and the 2021 Assembly elections. I presented that success at the memory of Kalaignar.When I took oath of office I had said, ‘Muthuvel Karunanidhi Stalin’ as it was Kalaignar, his programmes, and policies that were leading this state and the DMK of course.

Q: What are the major milestones to be achieved in the next five years?

A: Transparency in government, strong economic structure and integrated development at all levels. These are our major goals for a society based on the philosophy of social justice.

Q: The Government order issued by your government on the 10.5 per cent reservation for Vanniyars within the MBC is considered as a political move to woo the PMK. Any substance to this?

A: The DMK government was the first to define MBC and provide 20 per cent reservation. Each time Kalaignar Karunanidhi has come to power, he has implemented reservations considering the need of each community. The present government is acting as a continuation of that. This is one of the efforts to establish social justice legally. You do not have to look at it from a political perspective.

Q: When you included former health Minister and AIADMK leader Vijayabasker in the 13-member committee to counter Covid it was hailed as inclusive politics of you. However, after back-to-back raids on former AIADMK ministers, it is being addressed as a political vendetta. Your comments.

A: We do not hesitate to work together in the interest of the people and for their betterment. However, we do not agree with the idea of deceiving people and exploiting them. As a government, we will be tough on corruption charges and we will not hesitate to take to task anyone who has indulged in corrupt practices, and legal action would be taken against them. We had promised the people of Tamil Nadu that strict legal action would be taken against anyone who had indulged in corrupt practices. There is no politics in this, and our contention is that if there is no weight in the lap then there is no reason to worry, be it a former minister, a bureaucrat, or an ordinary person. This government will not have any mercy for anyone who is indulging in corrupt practices.

Maharashtra

Conspiracy to frame me in Anil Deshmukh-style: Nawab Malik

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Maharashtra Minorities Affairs Minister Nawab Malik on Saturday made a startling claim that a conspiracy is underway to frame him in an ‘Anil Deshmukh-style fake case’, allegedly at the “behest” of some officials in central agencies – but did not identify them.

Talking to mediapersons, Malik claimed that he has acquired some e-mails and WhatsApp chats of officers of Central probe agencies “instigating” people to lodge false complaints against him.

“I have all the evidence with full details of the conspirators… I am going to lodge a complaint with Mumbai Police Commissioner and also Union Home Minister Amit Shah for a thorough probe and necessary action,” Malik asserted.

The Minister — who has launched a crusade against Nartcotics Control Bureau Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede – said that he has acquired solid evidence that “a plot is being hatched to trap him in a false case like that of former home minister Anil Deshmukh, currently in judicial custody.”

Malik added that for the past couple of months after he started his serial expose on Wankhede and the ‘farzi’ (fraudulent) rave party raid on the Cordelia Cruise on October 2, he and his family are being “shadowed” by some suspicious unknown persons.

“They are making enquiries about my family, my grandchildren, my own movements, clicking pictures of my home and offices… Last week, when I traveled abroad (Dubai), they had come again, but were given a hot chase by some people in my locality as they took unauthorised photos of my home,” Malik said.

Some youngsters on motorcycles pursued the duo in the car and intercepted them near the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, and questioned them.

“They claimed that they sped off in their car as they panicked and feared a beating from the youngsters… Subsequently, after we posted their photos on social media, people voluntarily came forward with details and information on the duo and their car, how one of them has been continuously stalking me and other things. Now, I shall lodge a police complaint against them,” Malik said.

The senior Nationalist Congress Party national spokesperson reiterated that he would not be cowed down by any Central agency’s officers “attempting to entrap him in a sham matter”, and vowed to continue his ongoing campaign on various fronts.

Against the backdrop of his startling revelations in the past couple of months, the state government had recently enhanced the security cover for Malik.

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National News

AAP leader Sanjay Singh accuses Yogi govt of caste bias

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 Aam Aadmi Party leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh on Saturday trained his guns on the Yogi Adityanath government for not talking to the family of the Prayagraj victims and charged it with caste bias.

On the Prayagraj incident, Singh, in an audio message, said: “Whatever happened in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj on November 24 is more gruesome than the Hathras incident. It is a matter of shame that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has not spoken to the bereaved family yet, which shows that the Uttar Pradesh government practices caste discrimination and supports it.”

Four members of a Scheduled Caste family — a man (50), his wife (45), their daughter (16) and speech impaired son (10) — were found murdered at their home on November 25.

According to members of the extended family, the girl may have been raped before her death. They have accused a neighbouring “upper caste” family of the crime.

“This heinous crime took place at a time when BJP was celebrating Constitution Day across the nation. If the party had upheld the values of the Constitution seriously, then the last person from the most deprived section of the society would not have had to face such a difficult time,” the AAP leader said.

“I met their extended family. Brother of the deceased serves in the Army. He is serving the nation. Even his wife said that she feels unsafe there. All this is possible because of police’s recklessness and goondaraj in Yogi Adityanath’s regime,” Singh stated, adding, “The same family was being troubled by their neighbours since 2019. They filed an FIR but police did not help them.”

“In 2020, again they went to the police for help but no action was taken against the perpetrators and on November 24, they were killed in such a gruesome manner. After a commotion, police have registered an FIR with charges including gang rape and murder against 11 named persons, eight of whom have been arrested so far,” he said.

According to the police, a sharp weapon may have been used to attack the family as there were grievous injuries on their bodies.

The girl’s body was found in a room inside the house, while the other three bodies were found together in the courtyard.

“Some people have been taken into custody for questioning,” the Prayagraj police chief told the media.

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra met the victims’ family members on Friday.

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Maharashtra

Maha back to pre-pandemic days as all lockdown restrictions go

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In a significant decision, the Maharashtra government on Saturday lifted all lockdown restrictions with conditions, allowing economic, social, cultural, sports and entertainment activities as before the pandemic days, with major emphasis on full vaccination, an official statement said here.

As part of the easing, strict Covid appropriate behaviour will remain mandatory as per the rules, said Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte in his 5-page order.

The government has decreed that all public transport will be permitted only for the fully-vaxxed as also for entry to malls, shops, establishments, ticketed or non-tickets events, programmes, shows, public gatherings, where all the organisers shall also be fully vaccinated.

All fliers to Maharashtra from any international destination shall be governed by the Central government rules but all domestic passengers must either be fully vaccinated or carry an RT-PCR test report with 72 hours’ validity.

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