One of the most scandalous pages of Indian political history has just been written, although the outcome of it hardly pierced the ears and hearts of the common man. The metamorphosis of a political party that has thrived on its core reformist ideals, much deviated from the mainstream political ideals in its formative years and much deplored then, now and forever, for inculcating hindi hatred and for infusing regional passion, into another hero worshipping party that no more stands for ideals & philosophies but rather for power and nepotism, is a shame.
There were not many choices when I grew up, to politically tune my ears to. The eloquence with which M Karunanidhi would carry home his propaganda was a very good recipe for an adolescent looking for diversions from his daily mundane stuff. All I was interested was Politics and the way people could get carried away in a hypnotic manner every time there was an election, was & is still fascinating to me. For me MGR was a magic politician who knew how to touch the right nerve of the utterly unexposed public. But Karunanidhi was a literary figure who got into politics for his own principles and eventually took over the leadership in a more traditional corporate hierarchical way. In the process he did learn a trick or two about touching the right nerve of the same utterly unexposed public but since he was not a natural, he just didn’t do it consistently. But the experience pushed him forward and so did his administrative skills.
Many political pundits, notwithstanding their tormented annoyance over the DMK party and the way Dravidian parties in general have unfavorably dominated the Tamil Nadu political scene, will vouch for MK’s senile acumen & his sheer willpower to withstand all kinds of ruffles and his ability to iron them out diplomatically. The party’s fulcrum in the post-Anna era is him and only him. It has been in the reckoning and presumably everyone is foreseeing the end of MK’s era soon. So what next for DMK? Personally, I think the party should just dissolve into fragments. There should be no more DMK and no future leader should campaign for votes with MK’s picture in the backdrop nor should they try to carry on a party with an outdated propaganda and ideology that do not fit the 21st century. But we all know that this is not going to happen.
Rewind to 1996: In one of the most dramatic elections since the advent of satellite television in India, DMK thumped Jayalalitha’s party to give MK a clear majority to rule the state for yet another term. But one of the main reasons for the election turning out to be so dramatic was the fact that it was a combination of many factors that excited the voter’s pulse at that time. DMK’s alliance with the breakaway Congress party TMC, the prevailing anti-incumbent sentiment, growing discernment towards the authoritarian style of governance by JJ, her megalomaniacal acquisitions of power, property and people, Rajnikanth’s tirade against JJ and most importantly SUN TV that made these factors all the more accessible to everyone’s living room and all the more affecting, to everyone’s soul, by lynching on to a powerful vehicle that only the Maran’s family at that time thought of investing in. Yes. A golden investment it was…Simply by being the first one to do it – (well, not exactly simply), Kalanidhi Maran became a pioneer, no matter what, for being the visionary of this kind.
The connection between the Marans and DMK go a long way back from what I know. Murasoli Maran was a permanent fixture in Delhi political scene, being the low and sole voice of his beloved leader and uncle. He carried the burden of being a true Dravidian politician locally, as well as being a suave union commerce (or Industries at times) minister, dealing with international dignitaries, both at the same time. I think he did his job fairly well earning reputation among his colleagues as a no-non-sense politician. He was not a great stage orator but was a good communicator. He was well read and that shows in the way his sons were brought up. So, when Kalanidhi Maran took on the role of being a media visionary & an entrepreneur, he too did fairly well and was quite successful in making SUN TV the biggest network in South India.
Contrary to the popular belief that SUN TV needed DMK when it was launched, I believe it has always been the other way – DMK needed a media mouthpiece and what better way to do it than to do it through SUN TV? After 1996, it got to a point, majority market share notwithstanding, the network became a direct hotline for anything and everything the DMK leadership wanted to convey to the Tamil Nadu people. So much so, that Jaya TV had to get really aggressive, albeit a little late, to do the same thing for ADMK. For me, that was end of truly enjoy watching SUN TV.
Fast Forward to 2007: What happens to DMK after MK? If there is one political blunder that MK can never be forgiven of, it is his hypocrisy on family politics. For those of you still wondering, well….I am really no longer the boring adolescent falling for eloquent charisma and political gains….I earnestly believe, that the Dravidian parties have had their share of fortune at least 15 years too long. We should have brought in a messiah from the political third world. But no one could. None did.
Azhagiri or Stalin? This is the question that has been looming large in the minds of many party cadets for almost a decade now. It would have been a lot easier if MK had been a true leader and not a hypocritical one – he would have simply pushed Azhagiri to the corner or away from the limelight or even to the prison, for the last thing the state wants is a publicly confessed “Thug” to be in power. At least, Stalin gets the benefit of closer scrutiny to take over the mantle, because of his gradual growth along the party rungs.
In the aftermath of Murasoli Maran’s death, the party needed someone to fill his shoes in the center. That’s how Dayanidhi Maran came into politics. The 2005 elections saw Dayanidhi being elevated to the podium along with Stalin in all major DMK shows. He was his grand uncle’s right hand, supporting hand, the party’s voice in Delhi and arguably the most powerful minister in the cabinet from south India. To many trade pundits’ pleasant surprise, he was simply doing a fantastic job as the new IT&Telecom minister. He was a little biased in some of the FDI he brought in, as some claim…because he brought more for TN. But then, which minister isn’t? Isn’t that how our whole cabinet is formed? At least a representative from each state that is ruled by a party that is either in alliance with the party in power at the center or supports is, to take care of the state? Everyone was bemused my Dayanidhi’s sometimes abrasive style, as he is not your typical Dravidian politician. He, to me was the DMK politician that the party needed for the twenty first century. He doesn’t so much represent the old ideology of DMK but is modern, young and aggressive. Yet, a member of the DMK clan.
It was in this background that Dinakaran, a powerful DMK print media ally, currently owned by the SUN Network group, decided to publish a survey (For crying out loud… it is any newspaper’s prerogative to publish what it wants – Freedom of speech is very much part of the Independent constitution of India). So what if 70% of the state public thinks that Stalin is the heir apparent to MK? What happened at the Dinakaran office in Madurai is unquestionably unpardonable and yet, the government decided to shift the focus on to someone and something else. The 3 individuals who were murdered on May 3 have become forgotten history already and the party switched to a blame-game mode.
I guess the general resentment over Dayanidhi Maran’s growth and the grudge the Azhagiris and the Stalins had on Dayanidhi came to the fore last week. It all ended when the handicapped prime minister, who is otherwise intelligent, acted upon MK’s wish to accept Dayanidhi’s resignation. So, a fairy tale story of Dayanidhi leading the country’s IT&Telecom sector quite successfully ended rather abruptly due to family politics.
And it is a shameful scandal that no politician should be proud to be part of.
As always, in politics, nothing else matters – other than the larger interests of the politicians.
As always, hypocrisy works even when it comes to making your family fight public.
Amidst all, Dayanidhi may never be able to take over DMK leadership. A scandalous loss to the party.
****You can read my other “such things” posts here****