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Year of DMK & Statue Politics: 2006
|by Papri Sri Raman|
From the politics of slander to the politics of statues, 2006 was the year of a resurgent DMK. Statue politics was back in Tamil Nadu. The statue of legendary Sangam era figure Kannagi, removed from Chennai's Marina beach by the J. Jayalalitha government, returned to her pedestal.
Cine star and former chief minister M.G. Ramachandran's statue and that of dead DMK leader and Murasoli Maran found a place in parliament's gallery. Sivaji Ganesan found a spot on the Marina front as a statue, opposite Mahatma Gandhi's statue, despite judicial advice against the choice of venue.
The year ended with the desecration of a Periyar statue before the Vishnu temple at Srirangam, creating tension between rightwing Hindu outfits and Dravidian parties.
Perhaps, after 1967, when the DMK first took power in Tamil Nadu, this was the first time relations between New Delhi and Chennai were so calm and devoid of tensions.
DMK wasn't really prepared for a defeat in 2001, and it had not foreseen Jayalalitha's overwhelming victory in a house of 234. In 2006, from January onwards, election was in the air. This time the DMK did its mathematics well - it had the right allies in the right places well in time. With the Congress and communists as its partners, the DMK rode to power.
Fifth time Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi's son M.K. Stalin has been in the party since the late 1960s but it is for the first time that he has been included as a member of his father's cabinet.
Unlike in the 1970s when MGR split the party and went on to rule Tamil Nadu, in 2006 Vaiko himself has made life for DMK easy.
In 1994, Vaiko broke from DMK, accusing Karunanidhi of promoting son Stalin, and had the strength to form a party of his own - MDMK.
With the AIADMK defeated in the assembly, its ally Vaiko is left nowhere - his political future stagnating, his party facing dissidence form its MPs L. Ganesan and Gingee N. Ramachandran. Jayalalitha ended the year on an upbeat note, promising near-future alliance with Samajawadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Left and a state Congress disgruntled with DMK over power sharing.
The investment climate for the state was excellent. Tamil Nadu drew nine percent of the total foreign direct investment in the country this year, more than $500 million from January.
The water row with neighbors shifted from Karnataka to Kerala, with the height of the Mullaiperyar dam becoming a burning issue.
People on the east coast remembered the 11,000 dead and the thousands lost in the 2004 tsunami. But two years on, housing for the displaced is still a problem and lack of assistance to non-fishermen communities a matter of contention.
The Lebanon war saw expatriates from southern India returning home, leaving behind whatever they had built with hard work. A fire in Bahrain saw 19 workers from the poorest of poor families in Tamil Nadu dead.
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