A position that gives an individual an opportunity to work extensively for his/her people, or simply execute what the party leadership asks one to, as and when required. M.K. Stalin always chose the former hard way, yet abided by the party’s goals and framework.
M.K. Stalin is considered by many as a conservative MLA sans the full-throated sycophancy and melodrama that has become the norm of Tamil Nadu Assembly these days. Ask him what keeps him away from the melodrama and chest-beating, he says, "Self Respect, and Respect – Respect for the Assembly and what I represent, and Self-respect."
He is extremely respectful of his position as an MLA. He often says that "it is a privilege to represent your people and their aspirations, within the Legislative assembly," and he has carried this responsibility with dignity and poise – immaterial of whether he was part of the ruling government or was sitting in the opposition.
At times, his discipline and his definition of "duty" keeps him away from meaningless rhetoric, sloganeering and unruly legislative members who demolish the foundations of democracy. At such times, he'd choose to walk out, rather than stay in a house which reduces itself to being a pulp fiction of sycophancy.
He says that the Legislative Assembly has witnessed the likes of Arignar Anna, Kalaignar and Perasiriyar K Anbazhagan, who have been inspired to take the plunge to active politics, since they realized that no amount of field work can change the demographics of the State for the better, unless sufficiently backed by legislation. They steered their personal and political lives with the singular goal of making a difference to their people. To him the Assembly is a place where such idealism finds a rational expression and logical conclusion.
He firmly believes that this is a place which deserves only the best of behaviour, the loftiest of idealism, and if at all the representatives must clamour for something, it must be only for delivering welfare measures, peace and progress for the people of Tamil Nadu. He believes that in that highest pedestal of legislation, he would like to be present only to make a difference and not to be part of the head count.
His life as an MLA:
Making waves as a Youth Wing Leader, he marched into the Tamil Nadu Assembly as an MLA in 1989, elected from Thousand Lights. People of his constituency were quite impressed with this simple and quiet young man, chatting with them and jotting down their grievances and suggestions. Later M.K. Stalin reflects that his first real interactions as an MLA with his people were "intense, complex, rich and absolutely authentic."
As a newbie within the Assembly, he was driven by a galloping spirit, but was often stymied by the bureaucratic red tape and procedural delays. Not much has changed in the underbelly of governance, yet over the years he could drive change at the most basic level and bring about tangible solutions to slum and housing issues, waste disposal and sanitation, took up the onerous task of planning for the capital city Chennai’s public transport by signing off Mass Rapid Transport Systems(MRTS) and was always pushing the concerned authorities and ministers to ensure that the law and order and security concerns of citizens were a priority.
He has been subsequently elected from Thousand Lights in 1996, 2001 and 2006. In 2011 he was elected from the newly formed constituency of Kolathur.
As an MLA, since 1989, M.K. Stalin has contributed his might to a better Chennai, to a better Tamil Nadu in various capacities – as its first elected Mayor, as the Minister for Local Administration Minister and as the Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, and continues to do his part as a people’s representative.
- Provided solutions to urban challenges of drainage, sanitation and waste disposal.
- Beautified parks, the Marina – the second largest beach in the world, and rebuilt or created public parks with excellent facilities for walkers and play areas for children, in every locality of a space-starved Chennai.
- Initiated projects and signed up schemes to dredge and excavate the Cooum, and the Buckingham canal to develop navigational channels and restore the waterways of Chennai, thereby establishing an alternative transportation mechanism for Chennai and its outskirts.
- In the process he was aggressive in clearing off encroachments on the banks of these waterways, providing resettlement support to such families in new areas, constructing tenements for such families so that they are minimally affected by such measures and sealing off illegal sewer connections from residential and commercial areas which were polluting the waterways directly or indirectly.
- M.K. Stalin and the DMK leaders were the first to suggest and implement measures to create satellite cities/towns as a solution for the burgeoning immigrant population of Chennai. He suggested that private and government departments can spread out to the suburbs, encouraging people to move away from the Central Business District (CBD).
- To ease traffic congestion, many flyovers. pedestrian walkways and subways were constructed. Freeways too were on the cards. He pushed for the Mass Rapid Transport Projects (MRTS) in right earnest from 2008 and Chennai metro became one of the fastest projects to get approval from the Finance Ministry, on 29/01/2009. As Deputy Chief Minister he inaugurated the piling work for construction of elevated viaduct from Koyambedu to Ashok Nagar in the same year and estimated that under the DMK's governance the Chennai metro rail will be completed in 2015.
His passion for addressing the urban challenges of Tamil Nadu – the most urbanized state of the India – is unparalleled. He remains a rare leader who believed in action, rather than propaganda.
He says, "idealism on paper, minus action is worth just that!"