RK Nagar residents still miss special care

CHENNAI: RK Nagar is no more a chief minister’s constituency, but it does have a representative in the state assembly. However, three months after electing T T V Dhinakaran, residents here do not think the euphoria has returned. “That (euphoria) died with Amma (Jayalalithaa). No one comes to RK Nagar now, not officials and not the man we put in the assembly,” said Rajamma*, a push cart vendor, quietly going about her business near the Tondiarpet taluk office.
The taluk office is itself a scene of neglect. Less than two years ago, the Tondiarpet tahsildar had a real task on his hand every Tuesday.

Soon after she assumed office in 2016, J Jayalalithaa announced that an officer from the chief minister’s special cell, accompanied by corporation officials, police personnel and revenue staff among others, would visit the taluk office on Tuesdays and collect grievance petitions that were to be sorted out and complainants informed of their status by Friday.

These meetings stopped when Jayalalithaa was hospitalised and the government (under O Panneerselvam initially and now under Edappadi K Palaniswami) saw no necessity in resuming it. Dhinakaran’s victory too has changed nothing.

“I don’t know the reason (why it was stopped),” said Murugesan, the Tondiarpet tahsildar. “But we hold Amma Thittam on Fridays where residents can drop petitions,” he said.

So, what has Dhinakaran done for those who voted for him? Suresh Manickam of the Tamil Nadu Youth Party says the legislator rarely visits the constituency. “Since his election to assembly, I don’t think he has met people and listened to their grievances,” he said.

Dhinakaran’s party workers disagree. “He (Dhinakaran) has come to RK Nagar several times,” said Madurai Muthu, at the MLA’s office. “We receive at least 500 petitions a day which is forwarded to his Besant Nagar home.” Asked to show at least one petition, he said a batch of 25 petitions had just moments earlier been shipped to Besant Nagar on a two-wheeler.

“Nobody comes here (to the MLA office). Sometimes, Vetrivel makes a visit. Dhinakaran has come once or twice, not to collect petitions but for a victory march,” said an autorickshaw driver requesting anonymity. Dhinakaran could not be reached for comment.

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