Holding a wolf by the tail

THE GREAT INDIAN CIRCUS

When you let off a tiger that you have been holding by its tail, it normally gets back at you for its breakfast or lunch without wasting a second. But not a wolf. The crafty animal can be expected to befriend you instead, for future prospects that in any case also takes into account your candidature for inclusion in its menu.

But unlike a tiger, it is in no hurry and would rather weigh the options before choosing the time and place for decimating its prey. But make no mistake, the wolf would eventually take its pound of flesh.

The sudden provocation for delving into the food habits of the carnivorous creatures has come from the violent burst of bonhomie between the Puthiya Thamizhagam and Tamil Maanila Congress. Violent it was, as was borne out by the bloated bodies floating in the Tamaraparani, true to the reputation of the champion of dalit causes and their corpses, too.

It must have been a shocking entry into the turbulent world of dalit politics for the timid TMC and its tender leaders who are used to conducting their party affairs from safer confines. But wolves can be infectious, and the TMC too has quickly taken to ‘deadbody’ politics in the true Dravidian mould, what with its leader posing alongside dead dalits, kicking up a ruckus about conspiracies and demanding enquiry commissions, even as the super dalit leader, not one to miss photo ops, looms behind him, looking the camera in the eye. The wolf knows best.

And what bonhomie, as was evidenced at the fast to protest the dalit killings, that ultimately took off, after several initial hiccups. The landlord and the ‘lord’ of the landless seem to have hit it off quite well, and their visible camaraderie would have gladdened the hearts of serious social scientists and reformers in normal circumstances;

For it is not often that a pannaiyaar sups with a paamaran. But then these are unusual circumstances. Rather, it appears that the former, a one time prospective PM, feels truly honoured to be in the company of the latter hailing from the lowest of the downtrodden, an egalitarianism dictated by compulsions of elections, but paraded as a heartfelt sympathy for the dalit cause.

Moopanar’s clean chit to Kri-shnaswamy as a harmless lamb, seems more like an expression of hope rather than the voice of conviction. He does not look all that violent, the TMC leader says with sincere concern, casting a sideways glance at the you-know-what in sheep skin, seated besides him.

The recipient of the compliment is all humility outwardly, though in his heart of hearts he must have been counting the countless dalit heads that have rolled ever since he appointed himself as their messiah. Moopanar, obviously and luckily too, has not been reading the papers the past few years; otherwise he would have been hardput to explain why the doctor always leaves a trail of blood and limbs, besides a few disfigured statues, whenever he stalks the political scene with his trade mark processions and protests. Ignorance is bliss, and apparently more blissful than chewing supari and betel leaves.

But can a party, that purports to usher in a new order that is very different from the three decades of Dravidian disorder, display such naivette? Sure, the TMC has no friends in the political scenario of today, what with its parent ignoring its pangs of home-coming, a bosom friend having a change of heart in favour of more accommodating sweet-hearts and the Leftists taking a right turn to Poes Garden. There is also no dispute that in order to call itself a Front, the TMC needs a few more outfits in its basket.

It may also be conceded that in poll time, votebanks are as important as money banks and one should not hesitate to corner them when they are available wholesale. But all these can pass muster as the diktat of the times, if they are prompted at least by self interest if not not by public interest which in any case is never in the scheme of things of politicians.

But the TMC’s affair with the PT woefully fails to satisfy even that basic survival philosophy of a political party. One cannot understand what earthly benefit Moopanar hopes to achieve by openly associating with a habitual mischief monger whose track record has been none too credit-worthy and instead warrants a wholesome scrutiny by a few arms of the law.

Surely, the articulate Chidambaram with all his intellectual trappings, should have known better before waxing eloquent on the pros and cons of the new- found love and it is difficult to believe that even he has been led down the garden path by a phony champion of a genuine cause.

If the TMC wants to fight for dalit uplift, which most certainly is a noble exercise and a much needed one too, it can very well do so through its own party fora. Could not the TMC attempt to garner the same vote bank through its own credentials instead of riding piggy back on a dubious character who is sure to show his true colours and dump them at the first scent of power?

Is the TMC covering itself with glory by associating with a rank casteist outfit that is slowly also emerging as an agricultural mafia in the estates, fields and villages of TN? Should the TMC stake its leader’s carefully nurtured respectability and trade his years of sobriety for the support of a person who is not known for restraint or responsibility? Or have the two dhoti clad men, who made and unmade governments, been misled by a plain, political trickster’s fashionable attire, trendy shoes and savvy sales talk?

Championing the cause of the downtrodden is an extremely heady political game. One can easily be swept off the feet by the euphoria of sympathy which can be misplaced or diverted if one is not alert – something that has now happened to the TMC. The suffering and suppression of the dalits is a very convenient alibi for fly-by-night politicians to romp to power, for very few will have the guts to call their bluff.

Since these brokers project themselves as the faces and voices of the dalits, any attack on them is cleverly deflected as an attack on the dalits which immediately turns explosive. These leaders then barter their support base for political spoils, but the dalits invariably remain where they are. Dalits are not untouchables, but the likes of Krishnaswamy should be, politically.

Parties should think twice before casting their lot with such outfits, for by allowing these weeds to grow and proliferate, they are only endangering the very existence of the polity and society as a coherent entity, besides of course, risking their own survival.

The TMC is certain to regret the foible of its disastrous association at a future date but by then instead of it holding the wolf by the tail, the latter would be at its(TMC) throat!

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Jawahar T R