Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Riding on Vaiko's shoulders

Karunanidhi is perhaps the most wily politician in India. His ability to use any adverse situation to gain political mileage is his greatest asset. Despite being an ally of the NDA Government, Karunanidhi went throgh the humilating midnight arrest orchestrated by Jayalalitha. Although this rash and indecent act yielded little in return for Jayalalithaa, it endeared Karuananidhi to crores of Tamils across the world. The wily old fox that Karunanidhi is, understood that this incident was not good enough to win an election. It earned him pity-for-the-moment from people. Not symapthy. Sympathy could translate into votes and he knew how to exploit it. All he needed was one ripe situation. And came the situation in the name of Vaiko.
When Karunanidhi realised that the incarceration of Vaiko, is translating into large-scale symapthy, he immediately cashed in, erased the nasty feud with Vaiko in the past and rushed to adorn the role of saviour-mentor. His demand to then Central Government to revoke the draconian POTA fell on deaf ears. This was the biggest political point he could ever score. The scriptwriter in him sensed the building of an exciting plot. The hero - clearly Vaiko, jailed on charges of mouthing insipid political rhetoric about LTTE, was beginning to evoke symapathy among large sections of people. The seasoned politician inhim was quick to realise that in political parlance sympathy is spelt 'votes'. The Villan here was obviously Jayalalitha - his betenoire. She had, he accused, misused POTA on Vaiko and he played on the emotions of the Tamils to teach her a lesson for inflicting such pain on "his brother" Vaiko. The villian's sidekick - quite inadvertently - was the NDA government. The law brought in with the motive of curbing terrorrist actvities - especially in terror-stricken state of Jammu and Kashmir - was creating political turmoil in Tamil Nadu. Even in his nightmare, Vajpayee could not have imagined a law enacted by his Govt could be used to jail his own ally in the very same term. It happened. Call it error of political judgement or sheer political fortune for Karunanidhi, Vaiko became a scapegoat. So here was a hero and a villian and all that was required was to create a point of conflict. In one act of political masterstroke, Karunanidhi staged a demonstration against Jayalalithaa for jailing Vaiko and stepped up pressure against the Central Govt to repeal the law. It was killing two birds with one stone. Vaiko's supporters and symapthisers were swayed by Karunanidhi's concern for their leader. Before, Vaiko could realise the true colours of this political game, Karunanidhi appealed to him to apply for a bail - "in the interests of the people of Tamil Nadu," he cried. Tired of a long jail term and confused by Kalaignar's sudden affection, Vaiko applied for a bail. Before he could plan his next move, Karunanidhi withdrew support to the NDA Govt on flippant grounds - the only credible motive being the imprisonment of Vaiko. Catch 22 for Vaiko. He admired Vajpayee and would give his right arm to stay as an ally of the BJP. But here was his political mentor, who had gone all out for his cause. He was left with little choice. Reluctantly, Vaiko's MDMK too pulled out of NDA. And, from then on Vaiko political course was dictated by Karunanidhi. The number of seats Vaiko's party would contest, the specific constituencies were all at Karuna's discretion. The piece de resistance was in dissuading Vaiko not to contest the parliamentary election. In short, while Karunanidhi rode on Vaiko's syampathy wave, he made sure that his party reaped all the benefits. While the fiery speaker in Vaiko drew large crowds, the candidates he was canvassing for were from the DMK. While Karunanidhi's family-owned Sun TV conveniently blanked out his public meetings, Vaiko could do nothing in protest. The Tiger of Sivakasi after being made a political scapegoat was now turned into a vote-laying golden goose. As the 14 lok Sabha took shape and a record 7 ministers from the DMK took oath of office at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, there was one man in the audience who felt miserably left out. A man, on whose name, the DMK won the elections, Vaiko suffered in silence.

1 comment:

Nandhu said...

It's been a few months since your post Harsha. And now it seems that quite a bit is forgotten.
Vaiko's arrest under POTA, Karunanidhi's midnight arrest, TN government's efforts to provide relief to the Tsunami affected and the widespread criticism against this, the flood relief effort and the all too avoidable stampede in a Chennai school, all seem irrelevant now.

This election seems to based on pure maths rather than anything else. And if DMK carries the alliance with it even after the seat sharing charade ends, then it looks to me that the DPA would win.

I would not like to underestimate Jaya, but the difference between getting 25% of the votes and 35%, which would ensure a certain victory is all important. And Jaya has only Tiruvamalavan on her side now. I believe she tried her best to win over Vaiko, but that seems not to have worked out.

The elections have been announced: They are on May 8. When campaigning begins much of what I said were forgotten and a lot more will be dug up.

By enacting the Bill to take over SCV and Hathway, Jaya has ensured that this election is going to be vicious. A couple days later after the Bill passed the Assembly, Stalin and thousands of DMK men were arrested. DMK hasnt been quite either. Kalanidhi Maran launched an evening daily - Malai Murasu - an year back and in the light of its huge success, revamped Dinakaran. This morning daily was launched last week, amid quite a bit of hype and both papers will throw their weight behind DMK. They have already earned a place in the Tamil media as being non-party papers, which means they are being read by people outside the party as well. Murasoli will now tag the DMK line as it has always done.
Jaya, traditionally thought to be the more corrupt of the Dravidian leaders, is also the most efficient. Her rule between 1991-96 and the present term have both been a flourishing period for the TN economy.

It's doubtful if the DMK, burdened by the presence of the Left and its own tendencies, will be able to continue from where Jaya leaves the state. I don't see how an alliance with Ramdoss and Nallakannu in it can push through reforms.

Also, mention must be made of the bungling over the conduct of the Common Entrance Test, which the HC deemed mandatory after Jaya struck it down. TN govt now plans to take it to the SC. Already, students in two well-known and reputed engineering colleges have gone on a rampage, smashing things up at their college. I really can't say if it will affect polls or not, but aren't students a big vote bank as well?

As the polls draw closer, the media, I expect, will begin to put out what it has already realised: Only a last minute miracle from Jaya can hamper a DMK victory. Or is the poll still too close to call? The media will keep saying that the polls are being closely fought, particularly the English media, even if it's only to keep a largely uninterested middle class involved in the poll tamasha.