The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP woos Amma in Tamil, Telugu

Chennai, April 29: A BJP MLA’s praise for chief minister Jayalalithaa today appeared to hint at a realignment of political forces in a state where the party has severed ties with national ally DMK.

With the DMK and its allies in the state stridently demanding the repeal of the anti-terror law and the BJP-led Centre opposing the move, the state BJP has started to unabashedly woo the ADMK chief.

BJP’s K.V. Muralidharan said in the Assembly that his partymen would no longer hesitate to address Jayalalithaa as “Amma” for they were impressed with her string of achievements, including the Annadhana (free meals) scheme for farmers.

As the ADMK members thumped desks in appreciation and cheered loudly, Muralidharan said: “You are the only mega chief minister of Tamil Nadu.”

Jayalalithaa, he said, deserved the title of “Tamizh Thaai (Mother Tamil)”.

Muralidharan began the day by greeting the polyglot chief minister in Telugu. Jayalalithaa had impressed him yesterday by answering his queries in chaste Telugu.

The ostensible reason for the flow of praise appears to have been Jayalalithaa’s announcement that Tamil would be made a compulsory subject in all schools.

Muralidharan represents the border Thali constituency, where linguistic minorities comprise 40 per cent of the population. He said the state’s move would give his people “an opportunity to learn Tamil”.

He also appreciated Jayalalithaa’s move to issue question papers in Telugu at government schools in predominantly Telugu-speaking regions of the state. The chief minister also offered to set up a Telugu academy.

Later, intervening in a debate on grants for rural development, local bodies and water supply departments, Jayalalithaa refuted the BJP MLA’s contention that rural women were disinclined to use the “integrated sanitary complexes” being constructed for them. She urged Muralidharan to hardsell the concept among women in his constituency.

Jayalalithaa reacted positively to his suggestion to curb Naxalite activities in Dharmapuri district. “After a daylong detailed interaction with the district collector and top police officials, we have already initiated several measures like encouraging formation of self-help groups exclusively by youths.”

, intensively promoting sports and directing that more industries should fan out in Dharmapuri district to create jobs to wean away youths from joining the Naxalite movement,” she said.

She assured Muralidharan that Thali constituency, too, would get its quota of industries.

Gender justice

Chennai, April 29: In two separate suo motu statements announced in the House today, Jayalalithaa said two orders were passed yesterday to correct a gender imbalance.

The first, passed by the school education department, enables children, among other options, to use the first letter of their mother’s name as initials in their own name.

The second, issued by the Tamil development and culture department, directs that the gender-neutral English word “citizen” should be rendered in Tamil as “kudimagal” when applied to women citizens.

Till now, the Tamil equivalent was “kudimagan”, which connotes male citizens, used on occasions such as swearing in of officials to high constitutional offices.

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