It’s a special Saturday for MK Stalin as the son of late former Tamil Nadu CM and DMK chief M Karunanidhi completes a year in office during which he has successfully fashioned himself as the “People’s CM”.
Stalin, who was sworn in as chief minister in May 2021 after the DMK had spent 10 long years in opposition, has carefully cultivated his image, with special emphasis on public outreach.
Saturday, too, was no different as he travelled in state-run Metropolitan Transport Corporation’s (MTC) bus number 29 C on Radhakrishnan Salai and especially spoke to the women passengers about free travel facility for them. Free bus travel for women was a pre-poll promise made by the ruling DMK ahead of the April 2021 Assembly elections in the state.
Last month, the Tamil Nadu chief minister announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the family of a 25-year-old who died in police custody after being arrested for alleged possession of ganja.
In the past twelve months, Stalin has often made it to the headlines with his surprise visits to fire stations, schools, hospitals, and public distribution system (PDS) outlets. Photos of him dressed in a raincoat during the downpour in Chennai last year as he distributed relief and inspected flood-hit localities endeared him to the masses.
“The goal of the Dravidian model is to build a better Tamil Nadu,” he tweeted after inspecting a fair price shop a few days ago, chalking out the roadmap for his government.
While Stalin’s five-decade-long political career has also got him brickbats, his stint as chief minister has earned him praise as a good administrator and negotiator with allies — 12 parties, including the Congress, Communist Party of India and CPI (M), under the banner of the Secular Progressive Alliance.
On the electoral front too, the DMK has been able to fend off pressure in the past year as it sailed to a comfortable victory in the urban local body elections in February.
To commemorate the first-year anniversary, the chief minister made a series of announcements in the Assembly, including providing breakfast for students of government schools and another one aimed at ensuring nutrition.
In his announcement, he said students from Classes I-V will be provided with nutritious breakfast on all working days. He reiterated the state’s ‘Dravidian Model’ of development and asserted that it was an all-inclusive one. He also announced setting up more urban medical facilities to more effectively cater to people’s medical needs.
Apart from the social front, Stalin has also emerged as one of many non-BJP chief ministers who are uniting against the government at the Centre.
From the anti-NEET Bill to the stir against the proposed changes to the IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954, the chief minister has taken it upon himself to provide a credible opposition.