Tamil politics

Panneerselvam's political future will depend on how quickly he consolidates public support

Dr RK Nagar by-election and municipal polls will determine whether Panneerselvam would be able to emerge as a mass leader.

History in Tamil Nadu has repeated in more ways than one in the last two weeks. Like 1987, when the death of its founder MG Ramachandran left the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in chaos, the passing away of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on December 5 has split the party into two.

Her aide of three decades, VK Sasikala, has won the latest round of this power battle by successfully installing her nominee, Edappadi K Palaniswami, as the chief minister. This victory came two days after the Supreme Court killed her dreams of ruling Tamil Nadu by convicting her in the disproportionate assets case. She will spend the next four years in prison but is likely to have a huge influence on governance in Tamil Nadu if Palaniswami manages to keep his flock together and win the trust vote in the Assembly on Saturday.

Just as Jayalalithaa took on MGR’s wife VN Janaki after his death in 1987, former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, her trusted loyalist, chose to revolt against AIADMK’s leadership led by Sasikala. Like Jayalalithaa, he earned the popular support but could not break the legislative party to claim the chief minister’s post.

But Jayalalithaa used the positive public opinion to her advantage and emerged as the stronger faction in the 1989 Assembly elections. For Panneerselvam, the opportunity to prove his base will be presented sooner than what Jayalalithaa got after MGR’s death in the form of a by-election to Dr RK Nagar constituency, which fell vacant after Jayalalithaa’s death, and the municipal polls, which is likely to take place in July.

Following MGR

On Thursday, hours after Palaniswami took over as chief minister, Panneerselvam went back to Jayalalithaa’s memorial to pay homage to his leader. This was where he launched his revolt against Sasikala on February 7 and plunged the AIADMK into turmoil.

At the memorial, Panneerselvam said he will visit the constituencies of all the 124 legislators who supported Sasikala and urge the people to teach them a lesson for helping “those who were responsible for Jayalalithaa’s death” to capture power.

This strategy showed that Panneerselvam has a keen sense of history. In 1972, after he broke away from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and launched the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, MGR decided to confront legislators who were in support of M Karunanidhi, the then chief minister and DMK president. He batted for the people’s right to recall their elected representatives. But since the law did not provide people such a right, he exhorted them to gather outside the offices of these legislators in their constituencies and “wake their conscience up”. This even led to police complaints of instigating assaults against MGR, who was forced to appear before courts.

While very few in the DMK moved out with him in 1972, the trend began changing a year later when in 1973, MGR fielded a candidate for the Dindigul parliamentary by-election. The AIADMK won a landslide victory and provided the confidence that DMK leaders needed to ditch Karunanidhi and move camps.

Panneerselvam has a golden chance to repeat MGR’s feat. The Dr RK Nagar seat in north Chennai fell vacant after Jayalalithaa’s death on December 5 and will witness elections by June.

Given the swelling popular support for Panneerselvam, his supporters feel that their chance of scoring an upset and winning the by-poll is bright.

A Lok Sabha member, who is now in Panneerselvam’s team, said it was important not to waste time trying to capture the AIADMK and focus energies on launching a platform to take advantage of public support. “In 1989, Jayalalithaa won without the two leaves symbol. In the age of social media, making a new symbol popular is not too hard,” the leader said.

The parliamentarian added that a number of senior leaders, including C Ponnaiyan and E Madhusudhanan, have joined hands with Panneerselvam and there was no dearth of quality candidates. “In fact, Madhusudhanan knows Dr RK Nagar in and out and has won the seat in the past,” he added.

The by-election will be followed by state-wide municipal polls. “It is important we launch the new platform quickly,” the leader said.

However, others in the faction pointed out that Jayalalithaa was able to taste success in the 1989 polls because she managed to get the “two leaves” symbol, which had great emotional appeal as MGR’s symbol, suspended. This was perhaps why a delegation led by Rajya Sabha member V Maitreyan appealed to the Election Commission of India on Thursday to take the symbol away from the party till it was clear who had the majority support in the organisation. “Starting a new party or some kind of platform and trying to recover the AIADMK can happen parallely,” said another leader, who was part of the delegation.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content  BY 

Modern home design trends that are radically changing living spaces in India

From structure to finishes, modern homes embody lifestyle.

Homes in India are evolving to become works of art as home owners look to express their taste and lifestyle through design. It’s no surprise that global home design platform Houzz saw over a million visitors every month from India, even before their services were locally available. Architects and homeowners are spending enormous time and effort over structural elements as well as interior features, to create beautiful and comfortable living spaces.

Here’s a look at the top trends that are altering and enhancing home spaces in India.

Cantilevers. A cantilever is a rigid structural element like a beam or slab that protrudes horizontally out of the main structure of a building. The cantilevered structure almost seems to float on air. While small balconies of such type have existed for eons, construction technology has now enabled large cantilevers, that can even become large rooms. A cantilever allows for glass facades on multiple sides, bringing in more sunlight and garden views. It works wonderfully to enhance spectacular views especially in hill or seaside homes. The space below the cantilever can be transformed to a semi-covered garden, porch or a sit-out deck. Cantilevers also help conserve ground space, for lawns or backyards, while enabling more built-up area. Cantilevers need to be designed and constructed carefully else the structure could be unstable and lead to floor vibrations.

Butterfly roofs. Roofs don’t need to be flat - in fact roof design can completely alter the size and feel of the space inside. A butterfly roof is a dramatic roof arrangement shaped, as the name suggests, like a butterfly. It is an inverted version of the typical sloping roof - two roof surfaces slope downwards from opposing edges to join around the middle in the shape of a mild V. This creates more height inside the house and allows for high windows which let in more light. On the inside, the sloping ceiling can be covered in wood, aluminium or metal to make it look stylish. The butterfly roof is less common and is sure to add uniqueness to your home. Leading Indian architecture firms, Sameep Padora’s sP+a and Khosla Associates, have used this style to craft some stunning homes and commercial projects. The Butterfly roof was first used by Le Corbusier, the Swiss-French architect who later designed the city of Chandigarh, in his design of the Maison Errazuriz, a vacation house in Chile in 1930.

Butterfly roof and cantilever (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)
Butterfly roof and cantilever (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)

Skylights. Designing a home to allow natural light in is always preferred. However, spaces, surrounding environment and privacy issues don’t always allow for large enough windows. Skylights are essentially windows in the roof, though they can take a variety of forms. A well-positioned skylight can fill a room with natural light and make a huge difference to small rooms as well as large living areas. However, skylights must be intelligently designed to suit the climate and the room. Skylights facing north, if on a sloping roof, will bring in soft light, while a skylight on a flat roof will bring in sharp glare in the afternoons. In the Indian climate, a skylight will definitely reduce the need for artificial lighting but could also increase the need for air-conditioning during the warm months. Apart from this cleaning a skylight requires some effort. Nevertheless, a skylight is a very stylish addition to a home, and one that has huge practical value.

Staircases. Staircases are no longer just functional. In modern houses, staircases are being designed as aesthetic elements in themselves, sometimes even taking the centre-stage. While the form and material depend significantly on practical considerations, there are several trendy options. Floating staircases are hugely popular in modern, minimalist homes and add lightness to a normally heavy structure. Materials like glass, wood, metal and even coloured acrylic are being used in staircases. Additionally, spaces under staircases are being creatively used for storage or home accents.

Floating staircase (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)
Floating staircase (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)

Exposed Brick Walls. Brickwork is traditionally covered with plaster and painted. However, ‘exposed’ bricks, that is un-plastered masonry, is becoming popular in homes, restaurants and cafes. It adds a rustic and earthy feel. Exposed brick surfaces can be used in home interiors, on select walls or throughout, as well as exteriors. Exposed bricks need to be treated to be moisture proof. They are also prone to gathering dust and mould, making regular cleaning a must.

Cement work. Don’t underestimate cement and concrete when it comes to design potential. Exposed concrete interiors, like exposed brick, are becoming very popular. The design philosophy is ‘Less is more’ - the structure is simplistic and pops of colour are added through furniture and soft furnishings.

Exposed concrete wall (Image Credit: Getty Images)
Exposed concrete wall (Image Credit: Getty Images)

When building your home, it is important to use strong and durable materials. A value-added premium product with high compressive strength, Birla Gold cement is used to make tough, impermeable concrete that sets quickly, lasts long and minimises cracking. Its durability will ensure that your dream home always looks new and the steel structure inside remains protected. Birla Gold offers variants that are optimised for different needs. The unique hydraulic binding properties of the Birla Gold Premium cement variant prevent seepage, making it resistant to even corrosive water, especially important for houses in coastal cities. The Birla Gold Royal cement variant provides very high strength and is perfect for the foundation. As the video below says, with the different varieties of cement that Birla Gold offers, you can build the home of your dreams.

Play

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Birla Gold Premium Cement and not by the Scroll editorial team.