Flashback 2015: Unprecedented rains, floods battered Tamil Nadu
Chennai, Dec 29: Tamil Nadu faced nature's fury in 2015 with unprecedented rains and floods pounding several parts of Chennai and its suburbs, leaving over 340 people dead and prompting the Centre to declare it a "calamity of severe nature".
The year also saw the triumphant return of AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa as Tamil Nadu chief minister for the fifth time, killing of 20 woodcutters in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh in an encounter and launch of Metro Rail here.
The northeast monsoon that began in October left a trail of destruction and deluge. There were four heavy phases of rain in November and early this month.
Besides loses to lives, the severe flooding caused heavy damages to crops, cattle and properties across the state. Consequent to Jayalalithaa's appeal to the Centre to declare the rains and floods "national disaster," the government declared it a "calamity of severe nature".
The Jayalalithaa regime, however, continued to be the target of Opposition parties including the DMK over its handling of rains and flood situation. It came under severe criticism over release of surplus waters from Chembarambakkam Reservoir here which was alleged by Opposition as a main cause for unprecedented flooding of most areas.
In May, soon after the Karnataka High Court acquitted Jayalalithaa and three others of corruption charges in a disproportionate assets case, she returned as chief minister for the fifth time. Earlier, her trusted lieutenant O Panneerselvam resigned as chief minister.
He was at the helm after Jayalalithaa was convicted by a trial court in Bengaluru last year. The killing of 20 woodcutters of Tamil Nadu in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh by police of the neighbouring state in an encounter in April snowballed into a major controversy.
Allegedly involved in smuggling of red sanders, the matter also went to court and a Special Investigation Team was later constituted. All Tamil Nadu political parties were unequivocal in their view that those killed were poor labourers and the state government gave jobs to each of the kin of those 20 killed.
In October, Jayalalithaa urged her Andhra Pradesh counterpart N Chandrababu Naidu to arrange legal aid for Tamil Nadu labourers lodged in Andhra jails over charges of red-sanders smuggling. Soon after, she constituted a government legal team to secure bail for those in Andhra Pradesh prisons. By November, out of 516 labourers from Tamil Nadu, 172 had got bail. DMK chief Karunanidhi too deputed his party legal wing to take steps to secure bail for Tamil Nadu labourers.
In Chennai, Metro Rail services were launched in June In Chennai, Metro Rail services were launched in June complementing the southern and northern suburban train networks and the MRTS (Mass Rapid Transit System) trains between Beach and Velachery.
The passing away of former President A P J Abdul Kalam in July left a deep void in Tamil Nadu. Adored and admired by one and all, his death marked the end of a saga of service to the nation and people and inspiring students to dream and achieve big. In a tribute to him, Jayalalithaa announced that October 15, Kalam's birthday, would be observed as 'Youth Renaissance Day' by the state.
An award in his name was also constituted for persons who strive for promotion of scientific growth, humanities and students' welfare. AIADMK registered two more electoral wins, retaining Srirangam, where polls were held due to Jayalalithaa's disqualification following her conviction in the assets case, even as the leader herself later made her electoral debut from Chennai after securing an acquittal.
Having relinquished her native Srirangam constituency, which AIADMK nominee S Valarmathy won, Jayalalithaa later switched over to RK Nagar constituency in the city post her acquittal and won it by a margin of over 1.5 lakh votes.
In DMK, the hold of the party's first family led by M Karunanidhi was re-established, with the nonagenarian politician being elected as its president for the 11th time amid speculation of his son M K Stalin taking over. With Karunanidhi at the helm of affairs, Stalin continued as Treasurer at the end of organisational polls even as his step sister and Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi was elevated as Secretary of DMK Women's Wing.
However, it was not so good news for Karunanidhi's grandnephew and former IT Minister Dayanidhi Maran, with investigating agencies like CBI and ED acting against him and his associates in different cases.
While CBI arrested Maran's key aides including his personal secretary in the illegal telephone exchange case, the ED later attached his property in connection with the Aircel-Maxis deal.
'Thaali' or the mangal sutra made some stirring headlines 'Thaali' or the mangal sutra made some stirring headlines in 2015. A popular Tamil TV channel faced the ire of a little- known fringe right wing outfit after its members hurled explosive material at its office protesting against a show on the relevance of 'thaali,' which did not go down well with saffron groups.
However, Dravidar Kazhagam, founded by rational leader EVR Periyar, later held a controversial 'thaali-snapping' and beef-eating event to counter saffron groups on the issue. The vexed issue of arrest of Indian fishermen continued in 2015, with the state constantly knocking at the doors of the NDA government at the Centre for a solution.
Talks between the fishermen representatives of the two countries were held here but failed to make any significant headway. The year also saw Tamil Nadu lose some of its well-known names in the fields of literature and cinema.
Manorama, fondly addressed as 'aachi', and VS Raghavan, left behind a rich legacy of acting, after having worked in a over 1000 films each. While Manorama's acting prowess was often compared with thespian Sivaji Ganesan, Raghavan was a favourite of the mimicry artists of Tamil Nadu for his style of dialogue delivery. Veteran writer and Jnanpith recipient Jayakanthan also passed away, in what was seen as a major loss for the literary world.
The world of Tamil cinema saw some real-life action with the actors, divided among two sparring camps, battling it out in one of the bitterly-contested elections for their association. The polls to South Indian Artistes' Association (SIAA), also known as Nadigar Sangam, saw a fair share of controversy, with allegations and counter-allegations being made by opposite camps, headed by R Sarath Kumar on one side and Vishal Krishna on the other.
Allegations of physical assault and high drama marked the polling in which the Vishal-led side triumphed. Actor Kamal Haasan found himself at the government's firing line when Finance Minister O Panneerselvam slammed him for making certain critical remarks in the light of the Chennai floods and relief activity. He had to clarify that he did not target the government.
Actor Simbu's controversial been song landed him in trouble with various organisations filing police complaint against him.