Chennai: The war of words between chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Leader of the Opposition, M K Stalin, escalated on Sunday with Stalin urging Palaniswami to stop belittling the principal opposition party, the DMK, and to take all parties along in the fight against the dreaded novel Coronavirus to save the people of Tamil Nadu.
In a hard hitting statement, as a reply to the CM’s lengthy rejoinder to his letter on Saturday, Stalin urged Palaniswami to come out of his ‘cheap mentality’ and stop playing ‘uncivilised politics’.
Taking exemption to Palaniswami’s charge of ‘opportunism’ by Stalin, he asked: ‘Can’t I ask questions as the Leader of the Opposition? Where is the opportunism in this? I was only raising the questions at the opportune moment.’
Stalin asked if the government had taken preventive steps by setting up check posts on the state borders and subjecting international passengers to tests at the airports.
“Why did the chief minister call upon all those who came from abroad to voluntarily come for testing?” he asked.
He wondered why the chief minister on March 30 should say that they needed 1.5 crore masks, 25 lakh N90 masks, 10 lakh face protection masks, 2500 ventilators and 30,000 testing kits if the government, as claimed by him, has placed orders on time for testing kits, full body protective gear, medicines and so on with a ‘visionary outlook?’
‘Was it a visionary thing to reject the DMK’s demand to adjourn the State Assembly, saying that all efforts were being taken on a war footing and also to say that it was natural for diseases to strike but the people would be without fear only if the House was in session?’ Stalin said.
Stalin said that the government without understanding the potency of the coronavirus allocated just Rs 60 crore in the beginning and then raised it to Rs 1000 crore and asked if it was foresight on the part of the government to know the virulence of the disease.
He listed a series of inconsistencies by the government, like announcing relief only for construction and auto sector workers on March 24 even after he had demanded a relief measure for all workers in the unorganized sector, and then announcing it for all workers.
He alleged the same happened in the announcement of Rs 1000 relief for those holding ‘rice ration card’ at the Assembly on March 25 and then expanding it to all ration card holders the very next day during the television address.
Another example he gave was the chief minister holding a meeting with all religious leaders on April 3 after dismissing a demand from him (Stalin) on March 29 for an all-party meeting saying that coronavirus was a health issue and not a political issue.
Then, Stalin said, the chief minister first made the chief secretary announce the opening of 13 types of industries on April 7 and then cancelling the order using the Industries Secretary. Similarly on April 9 the chief minister said that the pandemic was on the verge of entering the third stage of spread and the next day the chief secretary said that it was still in the second stage itself.
He criticized the chief minister for not objecting to the Centre cancelling the MP Local Area Development Fund by playing ‘opportunistic politics’ and also for taking Rs one crore from each of the MLA’s area development fund unilaterally.
Stalin said that the State government was reluctant to extend the curfew beyond April 14 even after many state governments like Orissa, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Punjab have done it because it was afraid of antagonizing the Centre.
The chief minister, to protect his post, had sacrificed the rights of the State through his selfishness and cowardice, leading to Tamil Nadu losing a lot of things. Now it could be loss of lives, Stalin alleged.
He said the chief minister was asking the people for contributions to his fund and taking away the MLA’s funds because he lacked the courage and guts to demand the state’s share from the Centre. It was the DMK that has been demanding for the State’s share of funds, he added....