DMK and its alliance known for anti-Hindu, anti-Hindi stance for long, sought to make amends for its vituperative through Stalin. However, a issue-less alliance that hopes to thrive only on anti-Centre or anti-Modi narrative may not cut much ice with the voters this time.
KKamaraj and Muthuramalinga Thevar remained unmarried life-long and so had no issues. EV Ramasamy Naicker too had no issues though he married twice. As if to bring back the memory of those yesteryear celebrities of Tamil Nadu, Lok Sabha election 2019 is in for an issueless campaign, if you were to refresh your memory regarding the ecosystem prevailing during previous elections that the Tamils had faced. Tamil Nadu certainly stands different when it comes to the colours of campaining, leadership style and electoral out comes.
AIADMK- led alliance in Tamil Nadu, of which BJP is a partner, is likely to trump the DMK led alliance in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls
What adds colour in abundance - a la Holi - to the otherwise harsh victory-defeat centric polls is the mirage called poll promise. The one reeled out by none other than CN Annadurai, founder of DMK was “Three measures of rice for one rupee.” (approximately six kilos per rupee!) This was the famous election promise that brought the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) to power in Tamil Nadu in 1967. However, the party could not deliver on the promise. It was able to give only one measure of rice at one rupee in the State's ration shops. Annadurai managed with his jugglery of words and came out with an explanation ringing with a rhyme thus: “Three measures for one rupee is our lakshyam (future goal). But one measure for one rupee is nischayam (certain now)”. He used the terms ‘lakshyam’ and ‘nischayam’ believing them to be ‘Tamil’ words, but they happen to be used in Sanskrit as well, to give the same sense!
Dravidian parties like DMK thrive on anti-Hindi narrative. But posters in Hindi to attract Hindi speaking crowd in Chennai were seen before polls
Now, the rice promise was nothing less than audacious. How? Consider this: Just a couple of years before 1967, two successive years of severe drought occurred. India desperately needed American wheat under the US Public Law 480. At such a juncture when Indira Gandhi was at the verge of become a prime minister, infuriated by India's criticism of America in the course of the Vietnam War, the US put food shipments on such a tight leash that India literally lived from ship to mouth. “With every morsel we swallowed a little humiliation”, wrote columnist Inder Malhotra then. Rice too shared the fate of wheat and that clinched the poll outcome in DMK’s favour.
People in Tamil Nadu are happy with many pro-people schemes of PM Modi's Government
As though to measure up to Annadurai’s one-liner, a crafty wit authored a Tamil wall graffiti in Chennai that read “Go, grab your measure from DMK” (The Tamil word ‘alakkiraar’ in the graffiti for measuring also means cheating). Speaking of poll-related graffiti, both the biggies – DMK and AIADMK – used to religiously whitewash walls across the state and thus “reserve” them for their respective poll propaganda months before, once they smell an impending poll. Pathetically, their labour brought forth nothing in 2017 (close on the heels of Jayalalithaa’s demise in December 2016) when an eagerly awaited (by DMK) mid-term poll never showed up! (Forget graffiti, the EC this time over wants to have a look at poll posters before they are displayed). The Edapadi Palanisami – O Panneerselvam dispensation in the State is alive and kicking too. Tied up with BJP, AIADMK could rope in PMK of Dr. Ramadoss, DMDK of star–turned-politician Vijayakanth, Pudhiya Thamizhagam (SC outfit) of Dr Krishnasami, etc., totting up a decent 50 plus percent projected vote share for NDA in the State.
On this count, the DMK-Congress combine trails behind for more than one reason, the important one being the presence of Vaiko’s MDMK and Thirumavalavan’s VCK (SC outfit) in it, with the CPI and the IUML thrown in – all outfits known for their periodic slanderous anti-Centre yell. Remember the black balloons (in lieu of black flags) released by Vaiko men whenever PM Narendra Modi visits Tamil Nadu? All this, when the Centre enjoys huge public adulation that grows by the day on account of its hard-hitting response to Terroristan! A shocking revelation that Ranganathan, a social media expert stumbled upon deserves mention here. More than 58% of the “Modi go back” tweets emanated from – hold your breath – Pakistan! Only 4% were from Tamil Nadu. Does the anti-Modi gang in the State stand absolved by this? No. Where else would this anti-India brigade find a poll issue to be seen as waging war on Modi – the symbol of a new India.
By the way, year 1967 saw what Amit Shah wants to see in the entire country—Congress Mukt Tamil Nadu. The rise by rice of DMK that year caused the fall of Congress – a fall that resulted in the GoP sustaining fractures continually, till date! Congress is an obedient junior partner in the DMK led coalition, more than satisfied to contest 9 seats this time. The puny Congress in tow, DMK revelled in anti-north, anti-Hindu, anti-Hindi and worse, anti-army mouthing all the way (Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) sent by Congress (Rajiv Gandhi) Government to Sri Lanka lost 1,200 soldiers and nearly 2,500 were wounded, only to be withdrawn unceremoniously. Then Tamil Nadu CM M Karunanidhi renamed the IPKF as ITKF (Indian Tamil Killing Force), wrote Ashok Mehta in The Times Of India. Karunanidhi added that he would not worship army, whatever that may mean). Today, DMK and Congress are happily married!
The 2009 Lok Sabha polls was memorable, in that the poll issue that Jaya and Karuna clinged onto the issue of civil war in Sri Lanka turned out a damp squib. CM Karunanidhi observed a half hour fast in full media glare to sympathise with war-hit Lankan Tamils of course for extraneous reasons rendering the Lankan Tamils issue a non issue in the polls.
Come generation next, the son rises. MK Stalin is blessed with Karuna legacy sans dad’s gift of gab. The Stalin (tongue) slips are showing disastrously - particularly his frequent fumbling on Tamil proverbs. “Wall on the cat” instead of “cat on the wall”, etc. The sobriquet ‘Rahul of the South’ that he has earned thus seems eminently justifiable.
On Hindu baiting, the DMK cat is definitely not on the wall. Surprisingly, Stalin sought to make amends for the anti Hindu vituperative led by him on poll eve. There was even an innocuous news story planted to that effect. His ‘slips of tongue’ may all be gaffes, but the Hindu-bashing mindset of DMK betrays the crime. It was at a Muslim nikkah ceremony that Stalin chose to vilify Hindu marriage customs, especially the vivaha mantra, over the mike. It surpassed Karuna’s notorious taunt “blood on forehead”, a hint at tilak worn by Hindus. The moral of this long winding story is: If you do not have an issue to fight an election with, look for one, and you get it. Dyed-in-the-wool politicos in Tamil Nadu have found one in the appalling Pollachi sex scandal that broke out last week. Witch hunting over Tamil channels followed. For the moment, it looked, the question of ‘who should go to Lok Sabha’ yielded prime place to ‘who should go to jail in the dirty Pollachi case’.
The ancient pilgrim city of Madurai is, as the legend goes, ruled by Meenakshi (Parvati) for six months and by Sundareswara (Shiva) in the remaining six. The annual Chithirai festival of Madurai which witnesses over half a million evotees drawn from several districts, is slated for April 18, the date of polling for the state. Hindus as usual have resorted to legal remedy as the district administration (also in charge of elections) did precious little than brazenly announcing April 18 as public holiday in Madurai district, even in the event of the festival of immemorial origin allowed to be overlapped by the once-in-five-year festival of Lok Sabha polls.
Inevitably, the question of freebies pops up once the poll schedule is declared. Forget mixie, grinder, laptop, bicycle, cow, goat, rice... that is all old hat. Just days before poll notification, the AIADMK Government began depositing Rs. 2,000 into the account of BPL families. Even the DMK notorious for its ‘Thirumangalam formula’ (of bribing the voter) was speechless at this faux paus. A 2011 comment by Chennai-based economist Dr. Venkatesh Athreya presents another picture: he looks at the free rice scheme (of Jayalalithaa) from a different angle. Listen to him: “Rice at low price is also popular in other states like Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. We are giving the people rice to eat. We are not providing them with clothes or shelter.” The economist adds, “If suppose we give 35 kg of rice at Rs 2 and wheat at Rs 3 to every household in India, the subsidy bill will hover around approximately Rs 1,40,000 crore. This is less than 1.5 per cent of our GDP. But we give the corporate sector Rs 5,00,000 crore in the form of stimuli and other incentives. When it is given to corporates, it is called as 'stimulus' or incentive but when it is given to the poor, it is called freebies.” (from THE SUNDAY INDIAN, August 16,
2011). Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi ... are you
(The writer is Chennai-based senior journalist)