AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa is set to rule Tamil Nadu again with a massive majority. But she will not function from the new secretariat that her predecessor had built, or so she had declared months ago.
The Chief Minister's office will be moved back to the British built Fort St. George, where the old secretariat was located.
The buzz is that even the inaugural session of the new legislature may be held in the erstwhile assembly hall at Fort, which has now been converted into a library.
The rooms occupied by the outgoing Chief Minister M Karunanidhi and his secretaries at the Fort premises before he shifted to the new building are under lock and key.
It is not known whether the furniture still remains inside the office or it had been shifted to the new office. But even if the furniture had been moved, it can be furnished again in a matter of hours.
However, more effort may be required to restore the Assembly hall to its original condition. Shelves and racks need to be dismantled and books removed, before the seats, lighting, and audio system can be reinstalled. But of course for a government, this is not an impossible task, and it may get the work done before the first session is convened by May 17.
In fact, officials of the Public Department and Public Works Department, who will be in charge of the renovation, say that they can restore the hall in 48 hours if they receive instructions.
But the point is, what's Jayalalithaa's problem with the new secretariat, which not only looks pleasing to the eye, but also has incorporated many energy efficient features and water-saving technologies? Designed by a German architect, the building makes good use of natural light and has sensors that turn off air-conditioners and lights when nobody is present in the rooms.
According to an estimate, this green building built at a cost of around Rs 450 crores consumes about 20 percent less energy than a conventional building.
Why doesn't Jayalalithaa want to move into the new building, when it was she in the first place who had the vision to think of a new Secretariat during her last regime? She had planned to build the Secretariat by pulling down Queen Mary’s College on Marina beach. That plan was given up due to strong protests from the students.
Karunanidhi was lucky to identify a better place and implement the project. It is something that the whole State needs to be proud of. But Jayalalithaa has vowed not to enter the building that Karunanidhi had built. Despite being an MLA and leader of the Opposition, she did not once attend the assembly session in the new building.
In May last year, about two months after the building had been inaugurated, the AIADMK executive committee met and passed a resolution stating that the party would win the 2011 Assembly elections and form a government at Fort St. George. Those were prophetic words. Jayalalithaa has achieved what she swore to do and has dislodged the DMK government, which was reeling under charges of unprecedented corruption and nepotism.
Now is the time for Jayalalithaa to be magnanimous and enter the new building in pomp and style. She has proved a point by defeating the DMK and bringing her party back to power.
It doesn't matter who built the Secretariat. What matters is how one performs from there. Jayalalithaa should demonstrate she is capable of providing better governance than the DMK government. Let us be rid of the power cuts, let us have more jobs, less corruption if not no corruption, lower prices, better roads and better health care facilities.
P C Vinoj Kumar edits an online magazine, The Weekend Leader ( www.theweekendleader.com)