By S. Sivathasan –
Blasted to bits at a single stroke of the Supreme Court are the personal dreams of an impostor. Tamil Nadu was reeling for 75 days after the terminal illness of its incumbent Chief Minister. Her demise on December 5th 2016, left the state prostrate for a further 70 turbulent days. Even as the state strove for stability and a new equilibrium, the said interloper of limitless greed strayed in and made a murky political scene murkier. A 21 year legal tangle ended on Tuesday 14th February 2017, dealing a mortal blow to this ruiner of Tamil Nadu. From the 15th she is in prison.
The above account put rather obliquely may seem a maze to some; but to those familiar with Tamil Nadu politics, the picture is clear. One may inquire how a lady, a nondescript at that and not even in the seat of power, could have done that. After a state begins to worship money and deifies film stars for decades on end, degeneracy sets in. Tamil Nadu among the topmost few in India, began to wither, approached doomsday and slid fast in this century. What happened in the last 5 months needs no repetition.
Yet a few historical parallels make the inconceivable credible. Rasputin of Russia made his mystique well known till it reached the Czarist palace. Then he became a part of the royal household and shared its counsels. This was a century ago. Six decades back Buddarakita Thero twisted the Prime Minister of Ceylon to his will, till he saw to the latter’s demise. Babu went nearest the supposed inaccessible Head of State and of Government and terminated his life. The impostor in Tamil Nadu, a mere wayside seller of cassettes entered the CM’s residence, made clay of a so-called iron lady, looted the state treasury, reportedly collected billions in commissions, allegedly established 40 clandestine companies, went to prison along with the CM, slid out of it and became CM aspirant. Only yesterday she was shuffled again to a cell to languish there for 4 years, with her inordinate greed unrequited.
What was this chinnamma’s latest rant? Amma’s (JJ) political philosophy will stay for a 1,000 years as oracled by JJ. She had seen this happen about Hitler’s rave of the 1,000 year Reich. Neither did she fail to see the 1000 year British Empire, the proud boast of Churchill. The reality before her now is that stone walls do a prison make and two chappathis a measly, spartan meal.
Response to changing Dynamics
With a scourge out of the way, what portents await Tamil Nadu? The state is an ironclad unit of federal India. Modi has made federalism more real to the states through a larger share of power. Increasing the quantum of finances together with authority for states to decide have speeded up the development process. For once since independence, the unity of India is getting strengthened by the centre’s initiative at proactively making the states come in to their own. Uncompromising political agenda, forward looking economic programme, fiscal reforms and robust administration have changed the image of India in less than three years. The States share in the aura and partake of the fallout.
Taking full cognizance of this fast changing political and developmental scene in the nation, an advanced state such as Tamil Nadu is bound to chart its pragmatic course. The fundamental reality is that the destiny of Tamil Nadu is woven with that of India. Next is that India has launched herself into the great power trajectory. To move alongside or in tandem, the state needs to trim her sails appropriately. The state is already well placed in having thought large, planned large and executed large. Treating recent backslides as a transient eclipse, drawing up an altogether new composite picture is needed.
Political stability at the centre and in the states ensured through democratic governance for no less than seven decades has warded off revolutionary insurrections. Steady growth of India as a unified entity has warded off divisive attempts. The states have come to see political prospects not in revolt and dislocation but in the wisdom of parliamentary democracy with change of political masters through periodic free elections. In this respect Tamil Nadu scores high in peace and good governance. The upshot is securing full five year terms successively.
Changing Power Balance and Fresh Issues
What has been the power composition in Tamil Nadu since independence? In the first two decades, a degenerate aristocracy – in the sense of not being able to keep power in its grip – threw up a leadership in the form of the Indian National Congress. The aura of fighting for independence and the mystique of sacrifice disappeared against the surge of Tamil nationalism that came to a crescendo in the sixties. The movement was spearheaded by a vibrant, dynamic Dravidian party. However, in no time the Dravidian progressives split into two entities – obverse and the reverse of the same coin since then – and held sway as alternations for the next half a century. Today both are burnt out and have lost their traction with the people, their passions, urges and aspirations.
Yet it must be acknowledged to the credit of all three formations with long spells of power, that appreciable economic upliftment and quite a visible social transformation have been brought about. Access to education and more importantly to multiple fields of higher education made this possible. Most notable was the opening up of fresh vistas in employment. The inevitable revolution of rising expectations is upon the state and her citizens and inability to meet it is today’s challenge before the political leadership of Tamil Nadu.
Three Youth Movements
Three convulsive upheavals are seen in post independent Tamil Nadu. The first in 1966 was a massive protest against social iniquity, want of adequate economic progress and listless political leadership. To the youth charged with frustration at the denial of a place under the sun, the centre’s insensitive thrust of Hindi provided the ignition. The youth movement was so powerful as to make a Central Minister C. Subramaniam resign on his own volition. More startling was the defeat of Kamaraj and the change of government. Behind the youth was the organized political party, DMK with a great leader CN Annadurai which garnered the benefits and marched into the citadel of power. The youth were content then with having installed a new regime.
A large manifestation of youth power second in time sequence was seen in the revolt of March 2013. It was a sequel to the self-immolation of Muthukumar in January 2009. His honesty at heart and sincerity to the cause of Sri Lankan Tamils spurred the youth. It is not clear whether the youth had a well-knit organization, with a single leader together with district and divisional heads. Neither did any political party lend support. It is however known that the youth spurned all politicians appearing on the scene. This negative sentiment displayed their total distrust of those in politics. It is rather unfortunate that there was no follow up to build organizational strength on the energy spent and the enthusiasm generated.
The third in sequence and the second largest in numbers, spatial spread and impact is the Jallikattu protest and demonstration of January 2017. It was the cumulative reaction to a multiplicity of grievances which hurt the pride of a proud people. Jallikattu ban done by the centre, amidst seeming levity ignored the history, traditions, culture and passions of the Tamils. It pleased only the whims of some frivolous foreign NGO, which had no roots in Tamilian soil. It was too grievous a hurt for Tamils to put up with. The protest started like a snowball, gathered momentum and moved ahead like a juggernaut crushing every obstacle in its way. Tamil Nadu legislature was stampeded into enacting legislation to legalise jallikattu. The centre denied any option to demur, endorsed it with the President’s imprimatur.
‘The Night of Long Lathis’
A most praiseworthy victory came to the youth. Yet there was incompleteness in the effort. Besides jallikattu were simmering grievances which called for redress. They were suppressed by a brutal lathi charge. The ‘Night of Long Lathis’ was unleashed in Tamil Nadu on the night of January 20th by the impostor mafia huddling in Poes Garden. It was indiscriminate and spared neither boy nor girl or man or woman. It was reminiscent of the ‘The Night of Long Knives’ of Hitler in June 1934. Both had the same objective; to terrorise the spearhead, suppress all opposition and to feel free to ride roughshod over the people’s feelings and opinions. History has shown it in Germany in the last century and dismal events are displaying it in Tamil Nadu before our eyes now.
Youth Movement of January 2017
The revolt of this group got legislation enacted by the Legislative Assembly by bending all its members to respond to the will of the people. Its action terrified the impostor mafia which resorted to lathi charge to crush it and to preempt a recurrence. The day youth organizes itself to sensitize the MLAs to reflect people’s voice, the former lose their voice. Instantly the state government would crash making way for President’s Rule or state elections. The mafia will have no place to hide. People’s will can then manifest in the Legislative Assembly and spread across the state.