Any note on the forthcoming Assembly polls in Tamilnadu must, absolutely must start with a word of kudos to the efforts put in by the Election Commission to inform, promote and popularise the Right and the Duty of the electorate to exercise their franchise. No media outlet has been left unexplored, indeed been fully exploited to achieve the utopian target of “Nooru sadavidham” as the popular slogan goes! To the election commission goes the Man of the Match award even before the game has started. Now it is up to the electorates to score that century!
|May 16th, 100 Sadavidham!|
Tamilnadu elections, more than any other state in India is all about personality, to the extent it almost borders on being Presidential. Personality driven elections in Tamilnadu predates even “Indira is India, India is Indira” nationally. From Aringnar Anna to M.G.Ramachandran to M.K.Karunanidhi to J.Jayalalitha, elections are won and lost because you are either for or against the leader. The quip “Even a lamp post can win on a Congress ticket” during India’s initial days of experiments with the ballot box post Independence was given a fillip in Tamilnadu under the above mentioned stalwarts. To a large extent the scenario continues to dominate. Unless the candidate in question is universally unpopular, he/she is most likely to sail through or bite the dust not because of her/his standing or abilities but due to how the “Thalaivar/Thalaivi” is perceived at the time of punching the button on the EVM. And this shows no signs of abating in the near future either.
The other area where Tamilnadu has been the harbinger is the rise of regional parties which hardly have a footprint outside the borders of the state. Ever since the DMK drubbed the Congress in ’67, the state has been alternatively ruled by one or the other regional parties. From its initial role of being the kingmakers, Congress and subsequently all other ‘National’ parties have been reduced to being footnotes. The sprouting of a plethora of smaller regional parties making these ‘National’ parties mere ‘notional’ parties in the state.
|I, Me, Myself!|
As time moved along, Tamilnadu elections have stopped being only about personalities. The recent elections can be aptly described as being all about alliances and appliances! The dictum the whole being bigger than the sum of its parts was possibly perfected by the leading Dravidian parties in Tamilnadu. The multitude of political parties with various levels of influence geographically or among caste and religious divides are co-opted in the belief that all other parameters being equal, 2+1+1/2+1/4 = 234! (234 is the number of seats in the Tamilnadu Assembly you dummkopf. Welcome!)
|Regional Parties! Just a glimpse!|
The problem with arithmetic is that it can be duplicated. Also the breakaway factions among the political parties neutralized the arithmetic to a large extent as rival factions allied with rival camps! This led to the evolution of the next big idea to woo the voter. While freebies have always been in the backdrop of any Indian election, the freebie was usually food (Rice/Wheat/Take your pick) or a leg up for food production (free power to farmers etc.). In a first of its sort Tamilnadu added Colour Television among ‘necessities’ and offered it free to electorates! Soon Mixies, Fans, Laptops, Jewellery were added to the list and it has become a virtual free for all ever since! One wonders which among Smartphones, Refrigerators, Washing Machines, Dishwashers and Microwaves will make it to the manifestos this time around!
|Kalaignar and 'Sonrise'?|
#TNElections2016 is unique because after nearly three decades the polls are going to witness a multi cornered contests. In the blue corner is Amma fighting a ‘I,Me, Myself vs the Rest’ contest. In the Red corner is her rival since eons, Kalaignar, the Nonagenarian leader desperate for his ‘Sonrise’, with Congress and some loose change parties for company. Waiting in the wings, hoping to get a toehold is a ragtag coalition of parties with more leaders than followers led by a Captain who is likely to traverse the entire road from being a possible kingmaker to wannabe king and despite the public bravado, praying he doesn’t end up a spoiler with no spoils. And finally there is this faceless, friendless, ally-less, leaderless party among the also-rans which is likely to end up with Participation Certificate! I refer to the same party which incidentally heads the Federal Govt of The Union of India!
I am no psephologist. And if you were expecting me to predict the outcome of the elections in this note, I am happy to disappoint you. All I can say here is I hope the election commission wins. And more importantly, with apologies to Ravi Shastri, I pray whoever wins, at the end of the day Tamilnadu will be the real winner!
|The Real Winner Please!|
PS: These parties are also fighting an election in the neighbouring Pondicherry which must right now be feeling like Rahul Dravid!
Nooru Sadavidham : 100%
Aringnar Anna : Sobriquet bestowed on C.K.Annadurai. Literal meaning Knowledgeable Elder Brother.
Amma: Popular nickname of TN CM J.Jayalalitha meaning Mother.
Kalaignar: Popular Nickname of former CM of TN, M.K.Karunanidhi meaning Artist/Scholar
Thalaivar/Thalaivi : Leader