The political rhetoric plummets to new lows as we approach the second phase of polling. Campaigns are getting shriller and our netas more abusive. While one in UP says a BJP woman candidate’s undergarments are khakhi, another in Rajasthan warns of a “second Partition” as Muslims bear 12 children against Hindus having only two!
There are many more such instances including BJP’s Maneka Gandhi, a Union Minister, threatening the Muslims of Sultanpur in UP that though she would win anyway with or without their support, later when they came to her for favours, she might be inclined to look the other way.
And of course, the inimitable BJP MP from Unnao, Sakshi Maharaj, has threatened to curse all those who do not vote for him. His reasoning would be funny, were it not so tragic — he is a sanyasi who has come to them for bhiksha (votes), and if you don’t give it to a holy man, he takes away the family’s happiness and curses it. Interesting juxtaposition of threats — one in the immediate future, and the other in time to come, through unholy curses sent by a self-certified holy man!
While the north of the Vindhyas takes the cake when it comes to foul language and belligerence, in the South we have our own share of drama. In Tamil Nadu, where polls will be held in a single phase for all the 39 Lok Sabha seats on April 18, the coarse language used in political campaigns reached its nadir when it came to attacking the late J Jayalalithaa. Her film background came in handy to heap abuses on her and question her character; but after her demise the charges and counter- charges are largely confined to each camp calling the other more corrupt. Moving from coarse language and poll rhetoric, the electoral outcome in Tamil Nadu will be very interesting as the State is poised at a historic political moment. Two of its political icons who straddled the State with both charisma and the firmest of grips on their respective parties, the DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi and the AIADMK iron lady Jayalalithaa, have both passed on within three years. The political vacuum they have left behind can be seen from the way their successors have been floundering in laying down a compelling poll narrative, tying up electoral alliances, and above all in the huge dearth of a charismatic leader and vote gatherer.
Let’s take the DMK first; for its chief MK Stalin his father’s shoes appear too large for him to fill at the moment. The way in which he allowed potential allies, such as the PMK and Vijayakanth’s DMDK, to slip out of his grasp, would have made his later father see red. But despite this, disenchantment with the indifferent administration provided by the EPS-OPS combine puts him in a probable winning stance.
The DMK-Congress front is expected to get between 30 and 33 of the 39 seats. But there is no doubt that he could have done much better in terms of poll arithmetic.
Political pundits are still aghast at the failure of Stalin to split the AIADMK, which was already weakened by Sasikala’s nephew, TTV Dhinakaran’s rebellion and exit from the party with 18 MLAs. These MLAs have been disqualified and by-elections for these 18 Assembly seats are being held along with the Lok Sabha polls. Both the DMK and Dhinakaran claim that once the State bypoll results for 18 seats are out, the current AIADMK government will be history.
AIADMK under BJP’s thumb
If the DMK seems to lack a strong leader, the manner in which the AIADMK crumbled under BJP high command’s pressure to sew up an alliance, is astonishing when you compare it to Jayalalithaa making LK Advani, at the height of his political power, cool his heels for an appointment with her for a poll alliance. And who can forget the way she pulled the plug on the Vajpayee government and withdrew support from the NDA after barely 13 months in power. Vajpayee lost the trust vote in Lok Sabha by a just one vote, and Jayalalithaa went down in history as a giant slayer. But the present AIADMK leadership is a shadow of those days. Its capitulation to the BJP whose chief Amit Shah had called this government the most corrupt in the country hardly a few months ago, tells its own story.
One thing is certain; TN votes decisively and either Dravidian front could have a say in the formation of the next government at the Centre.