Masters of the game

Thirumangalam, in an ironic defiance of its pleasant sounding name, turned out to be most inauspicious for TN’s already fouled poll politics. The by-election, buy-election rather, held there in Jan ‘09 under the auspices, not of EC, but Alagiri, sparked a decisive plunge to the depths in voter bribery. R K Nagar today, in 2017, is the latest, lethal but not the last milestone in TN’s twisted, treacherous highway to a delusionary destination: Democracy.

Just one constituency. And what a nightmare it is turning out to be to the authorities in State and nation itself. The EC that routinely conducts many-phased polls in many States simultaneously, stands completely confounded by the pranks of the political lot here. In this multi-cornered pot-boiler the EC is the one that is totally cornered, pushed actually to the bottom to take all the simmering heat.

Not that malpractices are absent in rest of India, but they achieve some kind of consummation here. Students of politics or prospective practitioners of poll fraud can come down right away, if not already around in rounds, for an intricate first hand learning experience. A complex conundrum comes as a complete, compact case study, a neat package that the cash starved TN treasury should convert into a profitable business proposition. After all TN patented the model for this singularly sinister Start up that is now in full throttle. In any case, it seems written that the State finances should rely on some vice for sustenance, and this project could be a good compensation for the tottering Tasmac.

The ‘catch me if you can’ game is at once both funny and fatal. But since I have shed my ‘fatal’ attraction and developed a passion for feel-good journalism, I prefer to look at the lighter side. For instance, for a month now, every dawn at early light, R K Nagar residents, are not woken by the rooster… I meant the rooster chime on the mobile alarm, but by those carrying the roster of voters, ahead of the milkman.

Cash distribution, the first installment for sure, was completed long before the authorities even stirred. By the time they woke up and gathered their wits much of the mischief was over. FY ending March 31, ‘17, the political parties had closed their books.

The past week of the new year that began on April Fools day, is just mopping up operations, with main concentration on confirming if targets have been ‘touched’ and gaps any, to be plugged. And what novel ways of beating the system by miles, all within a few sq kms of the constituency. In tune with my recent, refreshing resolve of gaining exposure and experience by reaching out, I reached for my intercom and summoned all the reporters for an ‘on ground’ report. OMG. I was impressed. Parties can give MNCs, MLMs and even evangelists an inferiority complex. Meticulous planning, detailed listing, door-to-door initial survey, profiling and info gathering, diligent data mining, unbreakable and dynamic oral and visual code systems, devising of methods to suit voter mind and mood, accurate outreach couched in secrecy and caution and then ultimately, the actual delivery, in cash and kind. Small wonder, in TN most educational institutions are in the control of Karai Veshtis!

Being the State’s citizen boosts my self-respect, as we were told. My pride peaks at poll time. The one who invented April Fools day must have been a Tamil wizard of yore; it’s no coincidence that the biggest fooling festival, namely elections, invariably happen around this time of the year. Cauvery flows during campaigns and runs dry post polls. Prohibition is prohibited in party manifestos, but party Govts say cheers to it in public policy. Rs 575 crs vanish from numberless vans days before poll; yet no trace till date, not just of the cash, but of the issue itself. The State is inundated with slush cash like a December flood, but the all knowing Centre, RBI, IT dept, etc., feign ignorance and instead raid actors. Well, not exactly. There were some selective raids.

R K Nagar poll is rigged, unfair and foul for sure. Who needs proof? But so were all the ones from by-polls to Assembly to LS for long. Why so much fuss now? And who cares who wins! Enjoy the show, folks, particularly those fated, pardon, blessed to be tied to TN. For, outsiders will scoot once the curtains are down. For us, voters with a price tag, what happens in TN stays in TN. Now, can I have your token No, please.

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Jawahar T R