Blood on their hands

The dream weavers of the Dravidian movement used to spin tales of milk and honey flowing in Tamilnadu if only they were voted in. But ever since their rise to power in 1967 even water has become scarce. However, two things have flowed consistently in this State, thanks to decades of dominance by Anna’s DMK and its various off-shoots: Blood and flattery! The week ended has seen the confluence of both: The ruling Nero not only looked the other way when his kin spilt innocent blood, but also played the hero, drowning himself in a deluge of solicited praise.

When it comes to playing personality politics, the Dravidian party leaders are without peers. And flattery is the fuel that propels them. But, they are their own fans first, drunk in their own glory. I suspect, every morning they would be looking into the mirror and saying ‘hail, myself’ before walking out to hear some such similar chantings from their hapless co-borns. Perhaps, this is what they mean by ‘self’-respect. But such self-obsession can be forgiven if it is just a passing private passion that most political leaders have a weakness for; however in TN, pampering perennially to those pompous personalities is public policy. And the public pays for all these ego-tickling exercises.

Normal humans would feel embarrassed if such fulsome flattery comes their way. But these leaders are insatiable super-humans, whom none dare address by their cradle names. They all have special titles, respectful prefixes and suffixes, and even doctorates extracted while in power. Not a day has passed in these past decade and more without somebody or the other calling on the prevailing CM seeking blessings and benediction. And the leaders themselves never tire of playing divine benefactors. They would not demur if someone twice their age prostrate before them or cringe at their own posters and cutouts on every street. They would rather wink at all that as they pass by and probably suggest some better poses and profiles. And their partymen and hangers-on, having thus been updated on their leaders’ appetites and tastes, proceed forthwith to feed them.

And these leaders are uniformly paranoid.With egos fattened by flattery, they can neither tolerate a slight, real or perceived, nor can they stand another power centre, within their party or elsewhere. Naturally, families, extended families, adopted families, trusted friends, foster sisters
et al are considered safe bets instead of die-hard comrades-in-arms, who are deemed potential competitors. Political succession, then, becomes an in-house affair. After all, the party having become private property, the ‘estate’ should legitimately go to the legal heirs. But what if there is ‘heir’-splitting? Well, the first family’s torment is bound to put the State in turmoil as we witness now.

Such sychophancy automatically breeds violence. The cadres would burn the State at the hint of a challenge or insult to the supreme leader or those close to him and the leaders themselves nurture and reward such traits. At any rate, that has been the dreadful dravidian legacy here. While hate-mongering and verbal violence were endemic ever since the advent of the DK and DMK, power played catalyst in converting such rhetoric into real time ‘action’. Be it self-immolation by unsuspecting party cadres (as during the anti-Hindi agitation) or death of innocent public or destruction of public property, Anna’s successors have left a mind-boggling trail of blood in their wake.

A few samples: In the seventies, a student Udayakumar floated dead in a swimming pool after protesting the conferment of doctorate on Karunanidhi. Indira Gandhi was almost killed by rampaging DMK mobs in Madurai railway station. K’s dalliance with the LTTE cost Rajiv and scores of others their lives, though the Congress would not want to remember it now. Several died at the Mahamaham stampede when J and her friend went for a dip in the holy tank. Again, a bus in Dharmapuri went up in flames along with its human cargo when J was convicted in a case. Attacks on Advocate Vijayan, murders at the Tharasu magazine office, violence let loose on media men during a protest rally, and the most recent corporation poll violence etc are a few other instances of Dravidian excesses, that may have slipped from public memory but yet need brushing up, to see the present in perspective. Which is that one of the political mafias, Madurai, Madras or Mannargudi will get us for sure!

The latest Madurai murders is in keeping with the Dravidian political trend of consuming innocent lives for the leaders’ personal causes. What’s on is an ugly fratricidal war that has nothing to do with people, politics or the press. The warring right arm and the left arm, both belong to the person of Karunanidhi. K should take the moral blame for both Marans’ mischief and Azhagiri’s aggression. The hapless victims did not die for a cause, they did not sacrifice, were rather ‘sacrificed’ in a family feud, as were the hundreds mentioned above all of whom died ‘for the sake’ of one or another leader. But as with many such monstrous crimes, the leader can be expected to get away with this too. And even celebrate fifty years of such a blood-soaked legacy. And the sad thing is there is not a word here on the 150th anniverssary of the Sepoy uprising that the rest of the nation is agog with. Clearly rationalism has nothing national about it!

And media be warned, there is no press freedom issue involved here. Dayanidhi is a DMK minister and Sun TV functions from Anna Arivalayam. To dub them as media is a travesty. The sympathy for the dead should not morph into any kind of support for the Marans. The mediamen should be careful not to get entangled in the battlelines drawn by K’s bloodlines to carve up the State and spoils. May be now the situation is such that if Azhagiri were to meet the Marans, the army has to be called in. But things may change, the family may bury the hatchet, close ranks, have a settlement under K’s sanguine patriarchal presence and live happily ever after. Or if the battle escalates, Azhagiri may even contemplate starting his own newspapers and claim protection under press freedom like his nephew now! Where would that put the real media and the masses they cater to?

Indeed in TN any talk of freedom, press or personal, is futile. At least, as long as the Kazhagams and their kanmanis rule the roost in media as well as politics. If anything, there is freedom only to praise them and of course, die for them.

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Jawahar T R