Just fooling around

The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.
— Mark Twain

At the risk of sounding cynical, it must be said that with the people getting fooled by the slick, street-smart politicians round the year, there is nothing really sanctimonious about April 1, the official fools day. One often gets this self-deprecatory feeling that ours is a country of fools where fooling is a national habit and getting fooled a national weakness.

And no other time exemplifies this feel-fool-factor than poll time, which could be rated as the prime time for mass fooling,when politicians are at their fooling best and people at their believing worst. What coincidence that elections in TN almost always fall in May and campaigns begin on or around April 1. Fate favours the foolers, probably! This ritualistic democratic exercise lays waste the famed saying that one cannot fool everyone all the time. The only option the voters have is that they can choose the person they wish to be fooled by.

And as a prelude to the practical jokes to be played out in person by the visiting politicos, the State is now inundated by fooling manuals, passing under the lofty nomenclature, Poll Manifestos of various parties. These documents talk of the authoring parties’ past performances and promises for the future and need to be swallowed with the proverbial pinch of salt. But they do qualify as a blueprint of what lies ahead and merit reading, if the readers have nothing else worthwhile to do or want to revel in Utopian bliss. The glossy pages and glossier contents do feel and read good. But, if only all those claims that spring up to your eyes in black, white, blue and red letters were true, TN would now be a paradise on earth. However, reality reveals it as a fool’s paradise.

And the reality is simply this: The State has been clearly carved out between the two primary parties, their leaderships and a few chosen families connected to them. Every other party, politician and even ordinary person will have to bump into either one of them, in every walk of their life. Rather, there is no life in TN beyond the pale of these dominating outfits, that in turn are dominated by powerful personalities. If one goes to the Fort, the other will walk the courts, for sure, but that’s an all too familiar charade. It may matter a lot to them, but very little to the people. The now-popular Bushism, ‘If you are not with us, then it is deemed you are with the enemy’, has always been the case here, with a middle option remaining a foolhardy thought.

The fight to finish is at every plane, from brawls at roadside fruitshops to control of airwaves. And they are not finished, as yet. They have alternated in power for decades and have prospered endlessly. Quite rational, from their point of view! And what respect for their selves! The bulging money-bags are matched only by bloated egos! Periyar and Anna, who find prolific reference in their manifestos, of course next only to the prime protagonists, must be churning in their graves at this confidence trick played by their political progeny in their name on the unsuspecting dravidian people!

But while there is no political space outside of the two principal parties, there is still hope and scope for the other players to fool the people, who seem ever willing to wear the fool’s cap. In this context, Vaiko through his volte-face has clearly seized the ‘high fooling ground’, ahead of and above all else. Who would have thought this tiger of a politician would end up eating grass at the greener pastures of the very person who caged him for almost a year and a half? Sure, public memory is foolishly short, but is it as short as a week? For, within a span of seven days,Vaiko had announced both Kalaingar and Puratchi Thalaivi as the next CM! And it is also not clear if this tiger, albeit minus tooth and claws, has changed its stripes vis-a vis, LTTE, the much touted reason for its en-’caging’. A perilous foolery!

Obviously, a tiger’s stripes are apt to change depending on the beholder’s, read latest partner’s, political vision. See how the Congress has ‘exonerated’, much ahead of the courts, the DMK that it once accused of tiger-riding and causing Rajiv’s death. It appears Saint Sonia not only sacrifices but also forgives! But with TN Congmen busy befooling one another, do they need enemies, striped or otherwise? Clearly, they seem in no mood to fool themselves with the illusion of Kamaraj rule any longer. A dead Kamaraj cannot take them to Delhi while the other K could!

Then there are the sundry other foolers with bags of wool for the voters eyes. There is the self-righteous PMK chief who hung a whip in his office, to be unleashed if ever he were to bring in his relatives into the party; the whip remains there while the son has gone places. The joke was on the poor partymen. The Leftists would sup with the Congress in TN but fight it tooth and nail just a few kilometres into Kerala. So, in TN it’s secular solidarity, while next door, secularism can go hang itself! All of these parties, MDMK, PMK, Congress and Left, have alternately taken the right or left turn into either Gopalapuram or Poes Garden, from Dr Radhakrishnan Saalai, and have justified their fooling exercises with impunity! No one, as yet, knows what trick Vijayakanth has up his sleeve!

Their political pranks have always been at the expense of the people. It is said that a fool and his money are easily parted. A fool and his vote too, though to the voter’s credit it must be said that he is a fool by force and not by choice. But that’s no consolation as one walks up to the polling booth on the ‘fool’s errand’ that voting has turned out to be!

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Jawahar T R