By S. Sivathasan –
The Lok Sabha election has got into hectic gear with the day of reckoning being only two months away. BJP’s ascent to power is never in doubt. Breaking a quarter century trend of coalition governments is the challenge. Instituting a strong single party governance is what the election is about. Herein lies the stake of the titanic struggle for the BJP. It’s a target of Modi’s leadership as well. Getting from today to five years back is better examination, since memory that is fresh scores over what may be fading for some. The pre-election scene in Tamil Nadu (TN) ranges from the ethereal to the pathetic. The political formations fall neatly into such a spectrum.
AIADMK’s improbable reach for Delhi has fuelled a little speculation. Why this strange attempt?
If in 2004 the DMK by giving 40 seat support to Congress could have helped making a Northerner PM, why cannot Tamil Nadu do the same honour to a Tamil from TN itself and make a CM Prime Minister in 2014? The reasoning, weird to many but rational to a few went this way and the relevant CM has staked a claim for the highest political office in the country. For the mantle of Nehru to plod its weary way from Delhi to Chennai and descend on a CM. Such soaring thoughts were never before entertained by a Tamil.
There was another fortuitous arithmetic favouring the calculation. In 1996 Deva Gowda from Karnataka became Prime Minister with his own seat strength at minimal level but supported by no less than a 192 member UF coalition. Similarly BJP and the NDA dithering at 232 or less will reach for the AIADMK and its 40 strong to make up 272 and to form the government. Being ever grateful for this act of benevolence, a national party over five times its size will offer the crown to a one state miniature one-fifth its size. Vaulting ambition can see little logic in irrational thinking. But a hilarious drama is being staged in TN for the entertainment of the plebes.
Was this act predicted to unfold ten years back? No. But about eight years ago there was some hint. At a party session in TN, discussion went thus. Our leader has grown so big that TN can no longer accommodate the ambition or abilities of this CM. What is needed is an all India canvas. So, to be reached is the paramount place at Delhi. Most appropriately it should be the office of Prime Minister. But if any other position was to be offered, it should be no less than number two, ie Deputy Prime Minister. A seat occupied by Patel and no less. The suggestion was that the CM would condescend to being Deputy which the Party too would endorse though grudgingly. Was such a turn of events even predictable? Never. Not a soul thought like this at that time.
About five years ago when the CM invited Modi to a 39 course dinner, only a prosaic personal extra territorial reach was surmised. Three years back when he was invited to the installation of the relevant Chief Minister, a closer bond between two Chief Ministers was speculated. Modi after his nomination in September 2013 as the Prime Ministerial candidate, chose Trichi in TN as the venue of his inaugural rally in the whole of India. CM TN with all the rapport with Modi didn’t meet him or make a presence on the platform. Some observers read a personal agenda in the political implications of it. The absence of this courtesy at the second meeting confirmed earlier inferences. The same response or the lack of it at the third in TN reconfirmed speculation of competitive Prime Ministerial ambitions. It is such stern stuff that makes for vaulting ambition and it has already been made.
What next? To send a helium balloon to see how high it goes. Additional support was seen to be needed to test the atmosphere. Who best to extend it? The Communists – CPI (Marxist) & CPI – who in 2004 were inflated beyond capacity to around 60 seats but were cut to size at 20, in 2009 and brought down to earth. Lord Tennyson’s advice of Self-Knowledge, was never lost on the communists. At all times they knew and too well at that, that even for survival they had to piggy back on a star seen as rising. To them who were running helter skelter in 2014 having no one to align with, AIADMK offered a few places. Thereby the latter tried to enhance its image as a party sought after by two others, though of lesser import. After securing it no reason was seen for continuance.
There was another compelling reason. Why should this regional party accommodate lesser minions when its sights now were on higher stakes at national level in Delhi? So the hangers on were dished and thrown aside as squeezed oranges. Now with none to do them reverence, they proclaim that they will go it alone. Let them try the leader must be chuckling. A leader with thoughts of getting 40 out of 40 reasoned why a few seats should be needlessly given away.
The ground realities ever changing in TN with pre poll alliances, are taking their toll in TN. The first to fall off the alliance and from grace are the Communist parties. Their plight in the country is reflected in TN. When their weightlessness was known the governing party dropped them without ceremony. The act pricked the balloon in TN and also the 11 party Front.
The Congress is the party sunk in the most pathetic plight in TN. The oldest, the largest and the most prestigious of all parties in the country, a party that held sway for long in TN and ruled continuously for 20 years, has lost its hold for 47 years without a break. It hasn’t got a single party to align with. Any and every party knows that it will lose itself and ally if it reaches a rapprochement with the Congress. Even the DMK, a fair weather friend for 10 years, true to its nature has deserted it and disdains to go near it. Today’s serving Congress ministers are loathe to contesting a seat fearing sure defeat. No politician of any consequence would seek a Congress ticket since even losing the deposit is a possibility.
Forty years back there was a telling and persuasive cartoon in colour in the cover page of Illustrated Weekly, depicting a panicked dinosaur in a Congress cap posing the question “Am I to become extinct?” Yes, the possibility is real at least in TN for a beginning. Some 30 years ago, to give vent to people’s venom against Congress corruption, a Tamil film was produced starring Kamala Hasan in the role of a veteran Congressman. His mission was to identify, hunt for and personally kill the known corrupt. This was a way of sublimating popular anger. By the turn of the century, when hope was lost Sonia Gandhi brought it back to life the way Christ resurrected Lazarus. Now all is lost.
Why this situation in Tamil Nadu and that too in the last five years? The footprint fading in TN in the last 30 years was erased by the more visible cloven foot of the Congress in the last 5 years. In a bid to fool the Tamils all the time, successive Congress governments have run with the Tamils and hunted with Sri Lanka. In war in the North and in skirmishes in the West in Geneva the same tactic was used incurring the wrath of all Tamils around the world. As lately as on March 15, 2014 Secretary of State John Kerry has closed the lid on all speculation on where the Indian government stands vis a vis the Tamils. Much elaboration is not needed to understand the evil phase of the contemporary scene and the escapades of Congress stance towards Tamils in TN and Tamils of Sri Lanka. Suffice to say that the transience of Congress in Tamil Nadu is over. Only two months remain for an uncompromising wiping out.
The DMK, a party that captured power 47 years ago, was in the seat of government several times and has been in the limelight for long. It is credited with pushing the Congress out of governance after its decline and lack of movement. Following its victory in 1967 it gave a kinetic push to the development energy of the state. Every term it had, it changed the face of Tamil Nadu. Unprecedented growth and enviable development marked the last spell 2006 to 2011, which was stunning even for the centre and a few other states. It was also its very worst with an incredible taint of questionable practices and nepotism unequalled by anybody else. Family advancement was placed above the interests of the state and the people. It is now in the doldrums and has only itself to blame for this dismal plight.
The reason for its unparalleled isolation was its disregard of all what was happening to the Tamils of Sri Lanka. The leader was impervious to the massacres because of his overweening concern to be with the Congress which was engaged along with the Sri Lankan government in a retributive war against the Tamils. He displayed a total disdain of popular sentiment and the mass mood. All this while professing to support the cause of the Tamils. The effect was deadly and it decimated the fortunes of the party irretrievably.
In this situation it tried its hand at a pre poll alliance, but was able to cobble only a rag tag caricature. No heavy weights would come near the DMK. The BJP spurned it because of its taint with corruption. The DMK leader’s explanation for lack of cordiality between the two was that his party stood for secularsm while the BJP was non secular. If that be true how did he forge an alliance earlier? Yes, when Vajpayee led the BJP in 1999, it was so secular that he found a hospitable arbour there! A plethora of such smarter than thou pronouncements made the people disgusted with the party and wild with the leader. Hence the ever waning mode where DMK stands ostrasized by the BJP, INC, DMDK, MDMK, PMK, CPI(M) and CPI. An unenviable position indeed.
DMDK’s Unsure Ground
DMDK is yet a nondescript and does not know its strength. It forayed into Delhi for the Assembly elections and was taught where it stood. It abandoned alien territory and scampered back to familiar terrain. Major parties had assessed its little use to add some margin as an adjunct. With a mistaken notion of its actual value it has out priced itself and remains an unsold commodity. It is made for the rustic market and yet not for the Lok Sabha shelf. So not an item may be sold.
At this fluid confluence, the BJP which had registered a nominal presence of seats earlier in TN is making an endeavor at reentry. No party seems to be smart enough to go alongside. So no alliance yet. A pre poll alliance was only a distant probability. The current fallouts in TN result from BJP’s shake up countrywide. May 16, will be a day of enlightenment for all in Tamil Nadu.