The month-long session produced several key announcements, including the passage of the Tamil Nadu Admission to Undergraduate Medical Degree Courses Act 2021. The bill scrapping the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) was supported by all parties except the BJP, and legislators lavishly praised rival party heads with very few walkouts.
It is worth recalling that this bill was a key poll promise of the DMK. The government has proceeded to enact the law that provides admission on the basis of qualifying examination (Class 12 public exam marks) through the normalisation method. While the move is expected to run into serious legal and constitutional hurdles, Chief Minister MK Stalin hopes to bag support from like-minded state governments and press forward with his case. The state assembly also passed a resolution urging the union government to scrap the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019. Moving the resolution in the State Assembly, Stalin said that the house considers that the CAA passed in the Parliament in 2019 was not conducive to the secular principles and communal harmony of the country.
In an attempt to highlight the cultural richness of Tamil Nadu in a scientific manner, making a suo moto statement under assembly rule 110, the CM also announced the setting up of the Porunai Museum in Tirunelveli at a cost of Rs 15 crore. Stalin said that studies would also be conducted in South-East Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, where the Chola king Rajendra had established supremacy through his kingdom.
While the AIADMK staged walkouts and held heated debates on pressing issues such as the NEET, CAA and other critical concerns, the past assembly session would stand for the principal opposition party’s deviation from norms in welcoming several of the DMK government’s schemes and the way in which the assembly was conducted. AIADMK leaders conveyed congratulatory messages to the resolutions brought in by the Chief Minister as well as felicitated the DMK general secretary Duraimurugan for completing 50 years in the assembly.
The AIADMK’s party coordinator O Panneerselvam openly confessed that he was an admirer of DMK leader M Karunanidhi. And the Opposition gave its thumbs up to the CM following his declarations on the observance of Mahakavi Day on Sept 11, to commemorate poet Subramania Bharathi; and Social Justice Day on Sept 17 to mark the birth anniversary of Dravidar Kazhagam founder Periyar. By the end of the session, even speaker M Appavu received accolades from AIADMK senior KA Sengottaiyan who referred to him as a man of repute and termed the conduct of the Assembly as ‘exemplary’.
The rapport between the ruling party and the opposition benches was so obvious that even Kollywood took note and a top actor hailed the proceedings as ‘healthy’. One can only hope that this trend continues during the coming sessions too and that our legislators (both ruling and opposition) do not disappoint us by catering to petty personal attacks. It is essential that they focus their energies on encouraging initiatives that favour the larger public good and engage in peaceful and civil deliberations when it comes to issues that inspire contrarian viewpoints.