ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Tamil Nadu : Parade of Ex-Friends and Ex-Enemies

In Tamil Nadu, survival of significance for any party depends on affiliation with one or the other of the two Dravidian parties. As a result, there were many perchers on the fence, watching and waiting, weighing pros and cons, hoping before finally hopping. The direction of the hop is not influenced by old associations or previously proclaimed principles. What matters is only the immediate chance of success.

Never before in the election history of this state – and probably that of any other state in the union – has an election been riddled with so much uncertainty, confusion and complication, actual and potential. What has come to be known as the ‘run-up’ to the election took time shaping, because it was not clear who was to run with whom. In the political landscape of Tamil Nadu, survival of significance for any party depends on affiliation with one or the other of the two Dravidian parties. As a result, there were many perchers on the fence, watching and waiting, weighing pros and cons, hoping before finally hopping. The direction of the hop is not influenced by old associations or previously proclaimed principles. What matters is only the immediate chance of success. Also, in this state, politics is everyone’s favourite hobby – or, for some, much more. Start a political discussion with practically anyone, anywhere, and you will soon have a clear statement of preference with reasons thereof. The Tamil press thrives on this phenomenon. Correspondents’ reports and all kinds of interviews adding up to opinion surveys crowd the pages of the papers and magazines. Little wonder then that strongly pronounced perceptions take on the shape of ‘ground realities’. That the ruling party’s popular support has slipped badly is one such. The anti-incumbency factor, the perceptible rise in corruption at the lower levels of administration affecting day to day transactions and the water famine of unprecedented enormity facing the people have all had their influence.

It follows then that Amma’s chances appear distinctly rosy, her image untainted by all the corruption charges, a case of criminal assault and blatant evidence of disproportionate wealth. The chemistry of her peculiar charisma defies analysis. But certainly, law’s delay has turned into a major asset. In the last election, the memory of the ‘mother of all weddings’ was still very fresh. Her rout was followed by the humiliation of imprisonment, but the overdone reprisal evoked more sympathy than satisfaction. Her unflinching will and spirit in adversity stood out. One remembers that even as she was being carted off to prison, a cool Jayalalitha told her tumultuous followers to quieten down, assuring them ‘tomorrow is ours’.

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