Chennai :It was an eventful and challenging 2021 for Tamil Nadu that saw the DMK returning to power after 10 years, the Covid pandemic, rains and floods before it ended on a somber note when India’ first Chief of Defence Staff Maj Gen Bipin Rawat and others perished in a helicopter crash.
The year began with the second wave of the ovid-19 continuing to pose a major challenge for the AIADMK government in tackling it, a job continued by the DMK government after it took power, thanks to a silent anti-incumbency factor in the May Assembly elections.
DMK President M K Stalin became the Chief Minister for the first time after the party on its own gained a simple majority, winning 133 seats, in the 234-member Assembly.
The mega DMK-led Front, which also comprised the Congress, MDMK, CPI, CPI(M), VCK and IJK, won a majority of seats (159), repeating the success story of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls when the combine won swept 38 of the 39 seats.
The AIADMK emerged as the principal opposition party, again proving that the Dravidian rule has come to stay in the state. The voters gave no room for other players.
The BJP, which contested as an ally of the AIADMK that also included PMK, entered the Assembly with four members, the highest number of MLAs it had won so far.
After trying to re-enter the AIADMK, Sasikala, a close aide of late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, in a surprise move announced in March that she was staying away from politics after the AIADMK leadership was determined in its stand that the party should not go into her hands.
Almost right through the year, the Covid pandemic dominated the political landscape of the state. As the daily case load declined, the government announced lockdown relaxations in a phased manner, restoring normal life.
Mother Nature wrought havoc as the state was battered by heavy rains and floods in October-November, reminiscing the 2015 Chennai floods. Chennai city, Cauvery delta districts as well as coastal and southern districts bore the brunt of the rain fury.
However, the DMK government took prompt preventive measures in reducing the damages, though farmers were badly affected due to submerging of standing crops in several hectares.
As the year drew to a close, Tamil Nadu witnessed one of the worst ever helicopter crashes at Coonoor in Nilgiris district, claiming the lives of Major Gen Bipin Rawat and 12 others.
After a day-long search operations in the hilly terrain, the IAF confirmed that 13 of the 14 people on board were killed, sending shock waves across the country. Group Captain Varun Singh, who sustained serious burns and survived the crash, also succumbed to injuries.
The emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid, first reported in South Africa, kept the government on its toes as it geared up its machinery by enhancing surveillance in all the airports and making seven-day quarantine mandatory and testing compulsory for all travellers arriving from both at-risk and non-risk countries.
According to Health Minister Ma. Subramanian, 97 people have been detected with S-gene-drop at the State Public Health Laboratory so far. Of this, 34 people were found to be infected with the Omicron variant. Eighteen have successfully recovered.
During the year, actor Rajinikanth, who finally announced he was not entering politics after keeping thousands of his fans guessing, was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for his contributions to the Indian cinema.
A spate of incidents of sexual assault on girl students resulting in suicides, arrests of college professors and school teachers in several parts of the state also dominated the headlines during the year.
The re-election of former Chief Ministers O Panneerselvam and Edappadi K Palaniswami as coordinator and joint coordinator respectively in AIADMK, amending the party byelaws to prevent re-entry of Sasikala, incidents of frequent attacks and arrests of fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy and Tamil Nadu seeking exemption from the purview of NEET after suicides by aspiring medicos made 2021 an eventful year.