Governance issues in the State as well as in New Delhi
Uncomfortable political illegitimacies and nonsense economics!
Dr.Manmohan Singh might talk of 8 per cent growth. Finance Minister too might holds forth on such grand themese. But when it comes to political alliances, the PM and the FM and others have to eat humble pie! Yes, that is what we are witnessing in the poll-bound states. TN is dear to the UPA survival! So, more audacious lies are sought to be justified by the Central leaders.
How to provide free rice? Two kgs for one Re. This DMK chief’s promise. Now, in a return of the fire the ADMK chief promises free rice of 10 kg every month! The very same Finance Minister eats humble pie! He too raises his chorus to justify such a free dole is possible. If that is possible, asks Vaiko, the MDMK leader, why not the Central Government provides free rice all over India?
You can’t have a more ridiculous economics or a more dishonest political alliance on these premises!
Day -to- day politics could be so absorbing and even intoxicating. You have to just watch the news channels to see how Narendra Modi or Karunanidhi or Jayalalitha pitch their voices to show how they are so indispensable to the politics in the country. In New Delhi another kind of politics as a drama is enacted! Dr.Manmohan Singh takes cover behind the PMO screen, he is not a Prime Minister in the normal political, elected sense and Sonia Gandhi also, though powerful is not too forthcoming to assert her political legitimacy.
India seems to have entered a new stage of political evolution. The built-up or imagined legitimacy of political values are down-graded or willingly compromised in what is convenient to everyone in the political drama. Only when something more serious events or situations develop then everyone tries to take cover and no one willingly stands out and takes responsibility.
In the forthcoming TN election we see the uncomfortable political illegitimacies sought to be justified. The Central Government is being twisted by the DMK partner for the simple reason the DMK is a dominant ally. But this ally has its own black spots, one being its thorough disregard for all political values. Political governance as practised by the DMK is one of fascist worship of the leader as a demi-god, its Opposition role in the state Assembly is one of total boycott. Thus, the TN Government is caught between the devil and the deep sea!
ADMK is also on competitive populism. Thus, in the coming election the electorate is pushed to an unenviable edge, where the DMK reckless promised to give rice at 2 kg for one rupee, a free colour TV set and two acres of land to the poor. Is this a practical or truthful possibility? Specially from one who had been CM for four times? Also the ADMK’s promises are again impossibility!
Neither the press, nor the existing agencies of the state can give the voters any forum to question these bogus promises. There is fear in the public realm, given the potent violence-bread atmosphere created by the very same twins!
And the PM is also not a personality who talks out for the nation. Nothing of his much-touted economic expertise, some would call him a genius, or his equally admired deputies, the Finance Minister or the Dy. Planning Commission Chairman had thought fit to tell the electorates in TN or elsewhere in the states about what is a legitimate election promise or what is not in economics?
So, we as a nation, as a democracy seem to be willing compromisers on all major political beliefs and economic wisdom for the sake of political survival. So, the UPA is also a child (or victim?) of this immediate survival instinct only?
Any setback to DMK could trigger a chain of events. Any success for Jayalalitha could also trigger a similar chain of events. Both the Dravidian leaders are quite mercurial in nature with highly inflated egos, coming from their larger than life self images built up by the tinsel world and as such both of them are not grounded in any serious political ideology except the filmic glamour and the easy riches giving them a highly unreliable sense of loyalties or any commitment to any high principles of morality and conduct.
The Central Government is so dependent upon the 40 MPs elected from TN and Pondicherry and the UPA having a very slender number over the BJP, the Congress is deeply dependent upon the whims and fancies of one man, Karunanidhi who is so deeply antagonistic to Jayalalitha and her new found ally Vaiko, the MDMK leader. So, if as predicted by the pre-poll surveys the ADMK has the edge surely the DMK would one or two predictable things. Losing the state Assembly elections and the chance to occupy the power, the DMK leader would definitely demand the ouster of Vaiko’s party from the UPA, first. With the ADMK back in power, the DMK would be further cornered to create some excuse to escape the revenge-tinged moves of the ADMK. So, one big and obvious and even cynical way for the DMK would be to change stance and who knows that it might even desperately seek for alternatives.
And alternatives are aplenty even on date. With the ADMK(assuming it is back in power, wont be simply keeping quiet, it might respond to many temptations, it might even think of aligning with the Congress or give outside support for the rest of the term. Or, alternatively, it might explore the possibilities of a Third Front, floated already by Mulayam Singh Yadav and Chandrababu Naidu. If the election outcome in the other four states is not adding to the strength of the Congress then surely it is hard to imagine for Dr.Singh to stay on. There could be even internal revolt in the Congress. Already there seems to be moves to embarrass the Prime minister who is solely dependent upon Sonia Gandhi. As a leader of the largest and also disparate party with so many pulls and pushes who knows even Sonia Gandhi might be forced to sacrifice Singh for keeping herself in the pre-eminent position she already is. After all, as it is famously said, politics is the art of the possible, not the impossible, impossible to stick to any high principles even!
So many developments and uncertainties about the “too close to call”, virtual dead-heat, no single party likely to get majority, predicts The Hindu-CNN-IBN Poll. Why only the Tamil Nadu elections hold such top priority with the Central government’s stability?
Is then the time of Manmohan Singh government is running short? The outward calm of the New Delhi way of governing, don’t react to any serious issues, be it anti -Narmada Dam agitation and the Narmada Andolan leader’s prolonged fast, or the continuing farmers suicides or the Government-acknowledged seriousness of the spread of Naxalite violence in some 160 states where the Naxalites seem to be organised on modern army lines and posing serious threats, don’t be pro-active unless you are compelled to come out with some escape mechanism like a studied silence over the much heated up sensitive issue of higher reservations for the OBCs/MBCs, or don’t show too much importance to the many political challenges, be it Advani’s Yatra or Sonia Gandhi’s Raebareili elections or even the most dangerous of all developments the trail of enquiring of fixing the food for oil deal almost at the door of the most powerful in the country. Natwar Singh’s, this oily business is becoming too hot everyday with the TV Channels pressing on the trail to the furthest end.
In the advanced democracies like the UK and the USA too there are so many uncertainties and challenges. Tony Blair’s name now had been hurled in several murky deals, the latest one circle around 10, and Downing Street’s possible link with the cash for knighthoods! George Bush has any number of tricky issues that are sought to be deployed to damage the Presidential high office. In the UK Tony Blair has a majority, though small it is however is a clear vote for him to rule as long as he wants. In the USA, the President’s office is fully secure for the rest of the term. In China it is a dictatorship. In Russia it is again a fixed term for the elected President. So too in so many well-run democracies.
While India is a light house of democracy, a highly mature and evolved system with its many organs, like the impartial EC and the Supreme Court are admired all around the world, it is a democracy with all its attendant strengths and weaknesses. Already news is coming from Delhi about the uncertainty that is facing the UPA with the possible setback for the DMK and the heart posed for the stability of the UPA. Also the DMK allies, the PMK in particular is not known for its stable behaviors, it could switch sides even with the ADMK or go for its own bargaining positions considering the emerging scenario in Delhi as well in Chennai. The Left parties also could change their tune, given the possible outcome of the elections, with the respective Chief Ministers from the CPI (M).While Budhadeb Bhattacharya might be inclined to support UPA and Dr.Singh in particular but we cant say the same thing about an Achutanandan or the CPI/CPI (M) Polit-bureaus, considering there would be this time more number of MLAs possible in TN under the liberal distribution of seats by the DMK.
If, as it is assumed by some section there is a hung Assembly in TN, then the scenario opens up for more unpredictable outcomes. Even then, the role of the ADMK and the DMK on their own steam is very important.
With all the Dravidian rhetoric, the state is also an intensely casteist society and where the dominant castes like Thevars, Nadars, Vanniars are too caste conscious. Also there are this time so many splinter, smaller parties each serving to one caste, like the ST/STs. This time the smaller parties are also likely to diver the otherwise, larger Dravidian focus of the voters. The Dalit parties are also very active and these votes would not get to either of the Dravidian parties. The ADMK is perceived very pro-poor, while the DMK is perceived to be anti-women while the ADMK is seen as pro-women.
Another significant factor the public opinion, more so in the urban areas, might be guided by is the perception how Vaiko’s exit from the DMK front would be viewed in the days to come. Vaiko, being a powerful orator and also identified with the halo of a martyar, his powerful speeches might swing a section of the highly motivated Dravidian audience to make the final sweep. After all, the TN politics is largely driven not by any principles or ideologies but by the personalities .In this sense, it is the personalities of the three respective antagonists that could also have a decisive impact on the final outcome.
More than other considerations the standing of the incumbent CM is also high now. Her many populist policy announcements are on expected lines to catering to the social and professional segments. MK is therefore taken the biggest gamble of promising the moon! Two kilos of rice for Rs.one and a free colour TV for anyone who asks! One can’t imagine democratic politics can go further. People this time, it is expected would, see through the many empty promises and might vote without too much swayed by the many promises, bogus promises made by the parties.
The public perception and also as confirmed by the pre-poll survey, the DMK front has some unsaid agenda. MK is old and unfit to govern, the only agenda of the DMK this time is or seems to be putting the son M.K.Stalin on the gaddi. So, there is an additional reason why many of the even enthusiastic DMK supports, except the hardcore sections might not be enthused to vote for the DMK or would become a bit unenthusiastic. It is the final arithmetic of the constituency wise poll that could decide the outcome. But there is a clear trend: the ADMK would have won 46 per cent of the popular vote and the DMK front about 44 per cent and the other actor, Vijayakanth might get a 5 per cent vote.
This assessment might not change radically from now to the polling day and what is unique this time is that this is the closest fought election and this type close context is unprecedented. Tamil voters are an emotional lot and they surprise poll astrologers in a funny way, they go for one party’ absolute majority always. Will they do the same or will they this time become a bit mature and a bit wiser too!