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Vandalism in Tamil Nadu Assembly: Why this comes as no surprise

(Chennai,Feb 19, 2017): Tamil Nadu Assembly on Saturday became witness to acts of violence and vandalism by elected representatives of the state’s people. And, worse, this was not the first time that the members of the state’s legislative Assembly resorted to actions beneath their office.

When a special session of the Assembly was convened on Saturday for the new chief minister, Edipaddi Palaniswami, to go through a floor test to prove his majority in the House, many expected an end to the political uncertainty in the state since the death of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa. However, what ensued were repeated instances of din as the two factions of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), as well as members of the Opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), clashed.

Even as Palaniswami won the trust vote in the end, securing 122 votes against the required 116, this became possible only after the DMK lawmakers were evicted from the House.

Earlier in the day, the Assembly had to be adjourned twice, as MLAs created ruckus over the demand from the Congress, DMK and the O Panneerselvamled AIADMK faction that a secret ballot be conducted. But Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal’s decision of not allowing this led to verbal and physical spats. The Speaker's table, as well as other furniture and microphones in the House, were damaged. Some reports also suggested that DMK MLAs heckled the Speaker and tore his shirt.

The Tamil Nadu Assembly is no stranger to such instances of violence and vandalism by lawmakers. When Dhanapal on Saturday ordered the marshals to escort the DMK MLAs out of the hall, many were reminded of a similar scene from the 1989 Budget session of the Tamil Nadu Assembly when Jayalalithaa had been heckled and pulled by her hair after an ugly fight.

Coming back to the present, Saturday’s floor test had come after a period of the intense political slugfest. Earlier, while CM O Panneerselvam, who was seen as a proxy to Jayalalithaa, demitted office, apparently to make way for her former confidante V K Sasikala, he returned a few days later to claim he had been pressured by Sasikala and a few party members to quit – against the last wishes of ‘Amma’ Jayalalithaa. Panneerselvam was then seen by many in the party as a rebel, even as he claimed that he and a handful of his supporters were trying to protect AIADMK from a “scheming” Sasikala.

The party soon seemed split in two factions – one each led by Sasikala and Panneerselvam – and posturing by the two to wrest control of the party and state went on in full steam until the Supreme Court threw Sasikala out of contention by convicting her in a 20yearold disproportionate asset case.

Now, with Sasikala back in jail and barred from contesting for any public office for 10 years, she did what she was expected by most to do – she installed her own proxy in Palaniswami, who would stake his claim to the chief minister’s chair.

On Thursday, Governor Vidyasagar Rao invited Palaniswami to take oath as the chief minister and gave him 15 days to prove his majority through a floor test. But, surprisingly, Palaniswami sought a special session of the Assembly within just two days. But as soon as the Assembly convened at 11 am, it became a stage for one of the most shameful acts for any democracy like India.

VCs panel to find ways tobetter internal assessment

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, Feb,2,2017:Education Minister C. Ravindranath will constitute a committee of three Vice Chancellors to study and report on how the process of internal assessment can be made fair, transparent and studentfriendly in colleges in the State.

This was decided at a meeting of Vice Chancellors of universities in the State chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan here on Thursday. The meeting was held against the backdrop of the recent student agitations in private and selffinancing colleges.

The numerous complaints that had come up about the system of internal assessment was discussed at the meeting. The need for ensuring multilayered grievance redressal mechanisms in selffinancing professional colleges was stressed.

The meeting resolved that inspections of expert committees that preceded the granting of affiliation to an institution would be held in a stringent manner in keeping with the letter and spirit of various regulations guiding such inspections and the granting of affiliation.

A couple of Vice Chancellors pointed out that affiliation was now mostly based on the infrastructure of the college. They stressed the need for including an academic audit as a parameter for granting affiliation.

One Vice Chancellor pointed out to the Chief Minister that some years ago the government had issued an order that a college which was not able to post a pass percentage of 30 would not be allowed to take in students for the next academic year. Following pressure from selffinancing colleges, this GO was never made operational, the Vice Chancellor said.

The meeting discussed the advisability of constituting a regulatory agency, along the lines of the Admission Supervisory Committee and Fee Regulatory Committee for professional colleges, to oversee all aspects of functioning of arts and science colleges.

The Chief Minister asked the Education Department and universities to stringently monitor the qualifications, quality and pay and service conditions of teachers in selffinancing institutions. It was also decided to ask the Education Department to instruct selffinancing colleges to set up PTAs and to allow student unions to freely function.



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