Saturday, March 04, 2006

A suitable ally?

This should be filed under mindspace in my blog, cause there is really no space for politics. This will be my first political blog. May be I will blog the entire elections. Watch out guys.

The Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) on March 4 (Saturday) decided to leave the Democratic Progressive Alliance (DPA), the main Opposition in Tamil Nadu, and join hands with Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's AIADMK to fight the upcoming elections.
The elections, scheduled for May 8, will be a fight between the two Dravidian parties - Karunanidhi's DMK and the AIADMK. Vaiko's u-turn, after he asserted last week that he will not quit the DPA and UPA at the Centre, came a day after Karunanidhi offered the MDMK leader 22 seats to contest in 234-member Tamil Nadu Assembly. Vaiko has asked that 25 seats be given to his party, Karunanidhi said at his party's statewide conference in Tiruchy.
At first glance, Vaiko's disgust for DMK's high handedness seems justified.
The fate of the two national parties is already known. The Congress, which has a marginal presence in Tamil Nadu and a new state president, will remain with the DPA. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is likely to go it alone as it had already announced earlier.
Vaiko's decision comes in the same week as Dalit Panthers of India (DPI) leader Tirumavalan's move to join hands with Jaya.
The MDMK and AIADMK are now left with the difficult task of explaining to the people and to their party cadre why Vaiko's arrest under POTA for his alleged pro-LTTE speaches is suddenly a non-issue. Just how Vaiko will explain this bizarre but expected turn of events is still unclear.
Meanwhile, the election promises to be viciously fought. Vaiko's arrest under POTA, Karunanidhi's midnight arrest, the 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 rest of 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 and Vaiko on her side now. The BJP may choose to go in for a last minute tie-up with Jaya. When campaigning begins much of what I said will be 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 was passed in the Assembly, Stalin and thousands of DMK men were arrested.
Jaya, traditionally thought to be the more corrupt of the Dravidian leaders, is also the more 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 PMK's S. Ramadoss and Nallakannu in it can push through economic reforms.
Also, mention must be made of the bungling over the conduct of the Common Entrance Test, which the High Court (HC) deemed mandatory after Jaya struck it down. The TN government now plans to take it to the Supreme Court (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.
Kalanidhi Maran launched an evening daily Malai Murasu a 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 toe the DMK line as it has always done.
The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) plans to launch a mainstream Tamil newspaper. With Dinkaran being re-launched just last week, the print wars are expected to begin in earnest ahead of the polls.

Meanwhile, look at what Harsha had to say just a few months ago. Seems to be still relevant. Also, read what he had to say on the day the story broke.

Something on the media front: The Pattali Makkal Katchi, headed by Ramdoss whose son Anbumani is the Union Health Minister, is to launch a mainstream Tamil newspaper. With Sun group's Dinkaran being launched just last week, the print wars are expected to begin in earnest ahead of the polls.