Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin is gathering praise for his proactive and inclusive 13-member Covid advisory panel. What is unusual about this panel is that it includes 12 opposition MLAs as well. A lesson in Covid-19 crisis management meets ‘good governance’ to borrow the Centre’s much used phrase, has been quietly delivered by the CM, who will chair the committee. The inclusion of the 12 opposition MLAs is a sign of the elected representatives coming together to work for the people, in this hour of crisis, and that too soon after a hotly contested election where they were on the opposite sides of the political divide.
The committee is tasked with meeting regularly, monitoring the Covid-19 graph in the state. The political melting pot is also a message to the common citizens that the state’s political leaders have chosen to rise above the traditional and bitter political rivalry, the ruling DMK and the AIADMK working togethers is perhaps a first milestone of its kind.
According to a report in India Today, the task force includes AIADMK leader and former health minister C Vijayabhaskar. He tweeted, “On being inducted into the multi-party advisory committee by Tamil Nadu government, I will support and be available for the government, with lessons learnt from the first Covid-19 wave to contain the virus spread and mitigation measures for easing the tough situation faced by our state.”
The multi-party advisory committee has been formed “in accordance with a resolution passed during an all-party meeting of the Covid crisis held on May 13,” stated the news report. Apart from the CM as the chairperson the committee comprises Dr Ezhilan (DMK), Dr C Vijayabhaskar (AIADMK), GK Mani (PMK), AM Manirathnam (INC), Nagar Nagendran (BJP), Susan Thirumalaikumar (MDMK), SS Balaji (VCK), T Ramachandran (CPI), Dr Jawaharullah (MMK), R Eeswaran (KMDK), T Velmurugan (TVK) Poovai Jagan Moorthy (PB) and Naagai Mali (CPM), reported IT.
A welcome sign of the times, Tamil Nadu has joined the league of states such as Maharashtra, and Kerala, where the chief ministers have been reviewing the Covid-19 situation in their states. These two CMs have been seen reaching out to experts, alerting the centre, often on social media, and regularly holding televised media briefings to share key policy decisions on Covid-19. In fact, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had asked the Union government to declare the pandemic as a “national calamity” in April.
A few days ago, for the second time, 12 Opposition party leaders, including four Chief Ministers, sent a joint letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking the Centre to procure vaccines from global and domestic sources and begin a free, universal mass vaccination campaign across the country. The letter was signed by former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI General Secretary D Raja, JKPA’s Farooq Abdullah, Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav and RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav.