Taking an unusually aggressive stance, the soft-spoken Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edapaddi Palaniswami on Thursday took a broad swipe against the opposition and the media for spreading falsehood and propaganda to malign the government – whether it was Sterlite Copper mining plant or the Salem highway project.
Launching a frontal attack against the media and the opposition after releasing Cauvery river water to farms in Tamil Nadu at Mettur Dam, the Chief Minister said "my government was criticised for handling of the Sterlite issue. But today, after the government has shut down the plant permanently, many people from the region are praising the decision."
He was speaking to media persons after opening the sluice gates of Mettur dam to release water into the Cauvery delta region farms.
It is for the first time in the history of Tamil Nadu that any chief minister had made the opening of the sluice gates a political event. What is not to be missed is the government's message that setting up of the Cauvery Water Management Board as its victory in the lengthy legal battle against neighbouring Karnataka.
But more recently, Tamil Nadu has been witnessing protests galore on many issues, with the opposition DMK and other fringe groups trying to build a narrative and atmosphere against the Edapaddi Palniswami government citing non-governance, mis-governance and corruption as issues that would dominate the forthcoming general elections to Lok Sabha next year.
Besides, the DMK is also sensing a chance if the legal tussle over the Speaker's decision to disqualify 18 members of a breakaway faction of the AIADMK is overturned by the High Court. If that happens the government will lose its majority in the 234-member house. The TN assembly still has close to three years term to complete.
The Chief Minister used the Mettur Dam river water release function as a platform to mount a frontal attack against the opposition DMK and a section of the media for what he called spreading falsehood and propaganda. Even the agitation against the Salem highway project, the chief minister said was a politically motivated one. Almost 90 per cent of land needed for the project that will help the state was already acquired and the remaining 10 per cent of the land was the one owned by DMK functionaries.
The Chief Minister alleged that it was these elements that were creating a hurdle and fuelled a protest, that was being blown out of proportions by the media. Palaniswami accused the media of bias and showing only the viewpoint of the protesters, ignoring the majority of the people who were satisfied with the acquisition process. "Besides, the highway will benefit the entire state," the chief minister said.