At a gathering in Coimbatore, the Chief Minister said, “Our cadres always follow rules,” even as the illegal cutouts and banners welcoming him stood as silent witnesses.

Seen the miles of illegal hoardings and cut-outs in Coimbatore Nope says TN CM
news Opinion Saturday, October 27, 2018 - 19:34

The current Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Edappadi Palaniswami is known to have a funny bone. Or at least, he tickles ours. Remember his outings at the badminton court and gym? However, at an event on Saturday, the man took it to the next level.

Even as rows upon rows of large (and hideous) illegally-erected cutouts and banners welcomed his Deputy Chief Minister, O Panneerselvam, to a wedding held on the previous day, the Chief Minister too had hoardings put up for his event on Saturday. What event, you ask? A review of government drinking water projects in the city. After all, it is an occasion to celebrate when those in power do their jobs.

Speaking at a press conference shortly after, the Chief Minister was asked why illegal banners were erected to welcome him and the Deputy Chief Minister.

“Nothing like that. Our cadre always abide by the law,” he claimed.

Perhaps the Chief Minister’s memory had failed him temporarily? Perhaps the Chief Minister forgot that nearly a year ago, Ragu, a software engineer from the state, was fatally knocked down after ramming into an illegal wooden arch erected for the MGR Centenary celebrations in the very same place?

(For the uninitiated, centenary celebrations are usually held to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of a significant event. However, the MGR centenary celebrations is an ongoing two-year long event helmed by various AIADMK functionaries, that displays scant regard for the law).

Let's be generous and accept that the CM is a forgetful man, whether it is his political loyalties or conducting local body elections, often leaving citizens in the lurch. But what about Babu? The gardener in Kodappamund, Ooty, was electrocuted in December last year after he held onto an AIADMK flag pole precariously placed next to a transformer with live wires running through it. No comprende?

Or how about Farooq? The man who sustained severe injuries after an iron rod holding AIADMK banners erected for the TN CM fell on his head in Coonoor? Still nothing?

One assumes that these are not places the CM frequently visits, so one can(not) argue that he has forgotten. But what about outside his official residence on Greenways Road in Chennai? Surely, he can’t forget that banners were erected across both footpaths along this road, effectively causing a major inconvenience to residents who were forced to walk alongside incoming traffic?

Then there was also that time a bus stop outside the AIADMK headquarters disappeared into an obnoxious box beaming with the sweaty faces of party functionaries. Avvai Shanmugam Salai in Royapettah was temporarily transformed into the AIADMK’s personal Triwizard maze.

Is this criticism too harsh? The Chief Minister may be economical with the truth when it comes to banners, but he is not a hypocrite. He never took the political opportunity to crackdown on the DMK when the arch rivals had damaged footpaths to put up flex-boards on Poonamallee High Road in June. And let's not even get into Amit Shah’s visit to Chennai in July this year. He is in the BJP, after all.

The common people will never understand the strange joy that people in power seem to derive from these life endangering bright green flex boards. And while the ordinary masses try to navigate their way through busy roads where footpaths favour inanimate ego boards, the Chief Minister will probably be off to the next ‘event.’

(Views expressed are the author's own.)