Game on: Love all!

St Valentine’s much caricatured bearded face can’t be even remotely related to romance. The legend, fact or fiction, however, has stuck. He has inspired alike vigilantes, voyeurs and the virtuous.

In a normal year, the build-up to St Valentine’s Day or Lovers Day, overflows with tingling love filling the air and all heaven breaking loose. Media and commerce are awash with novel and nuanced and often very naughty tips on how to woo the other sex.

Indeed, if you are not a lovebird, with a sweetheart on your arm, whatever your marital status, you are made to feel a misfit on that day. If the love bug does not bite you, you bite it. For the LGBT, this is a special year as the Supreme Court has cleared their so far stigmatised status.

This V-Day heralds the political mating season with just around 90 days to go for LS polls. St V’s school of thought will find rather extreme expressions in this unlikely arena. All parties have already begun their frantic and frenetic search for potential partners, with alliance dalliances reigning as the raging current affairs.

There will be much meeting, greeting, dating and, often, scooting mid-way. There will be love after first fight and parting after first flirt. This is the time for talking, stalking, sulking, break-ups, patch-ups, one-night stands, engagements and estrangements, marriage of the divorced and divorce of the married. After all, all is fair in a political love affair.

At the national level, particularly active are the disparate Opposition parties who have no love lost between them but yet forced to jump into the same bandwagon, or rather, bedwagon just to isolate and unseat the already lonely Modi. The Mahagat… whatever is the political equivalent of a sleazy house of shady goings-on (I am being decent).

The political orgies have just begun here and one has to wait till elections and then even after that to know who will stay and who will stray. The NDA and BJP, for their part, are likely to plough a lonely furrow of political celibacy, at least for the present, because several parties in several States have already got paired elsewhere.

TN is a pioneer in amorous political affairs, infidelity and sour grapes syndrome. For the State Assembly in the last five decades, it has been either DMK or AIADMK single-party rule with no messy alliance spouses breathing down their necks. Of course, pre-poll, no party is taboo and anyone with the right dowry – read vote bank – is ripe for a ride. Strange bad-fellows, all.

For a relationship to blossom, for some just a wink will do and there are those who have to be wooed hard. Either way, in this rational, self-respecting Dravidian land of Periyar, political love, however, is ideology-blind. Also, political chastity is not a pre-condition and so the coalition ground rule for conjugal bliss is: no permanent Valentines!

The lust for absolute political power has been paramount for the prime parties and their paranoid prima donnas. The vigorously wooed allies are mercilessly shooed way. St Valentine is dispensable once St George is secured. Not that the discards will crib. Rather, it suits them to stalk the streets and sidewalks till next poll-time. The secret is in staying put.

In the last three decades, the two Dravidian parties have consistently tasted power at the Centre too, the two national parties having become completely impotent here and so, incapable of arousing any interest. The situation seems no different even after the recent exit of J & K with Cong and BJP all set to remain hen-pecked by their better off better-half.

Polygamous DMK is the first off the block with its endearing love letters having already elicited equally enticing entreatments from the waiting suitors. The Congress is in, irrespective of whatever paltry pieces the DMK offers, though it must be added that the ‘magnanimous’ DMK has declared Rahul as PM.

The anti-BJP Left, very much in the political red, will have to hitch to the DMK household. Vaiko, a rather perilous paramour to possess, has crawled into this crowded coalition even without an invite. After all, all his earlier takers are now wiser for the worse, jilted and jolted by this jinxed roaming Romeo.

The post-J AIADMK is proving to be no pushover. The ranks have united, at least seemingly, to appear as a presentable picture of attraction. The only and potent spoiler looks to be UPS’s (Udan Pirava Sahodari) proxy, TTV. Indeed, EPS is the only possible consort that can adorn BJP’s desolate rath yatra in TN for now.

And as with Congress, BJP, too, is part of the club that can’t be choosers. And then there are the fence-sitters. Promiscuous PMK, despite its avowed bachelorhood, will easily break its vows to say the wedding vows and bow to the one who makes the best offer. Ditto with the legions of caste outfits. But the real eye-candy of this election is the unfolding of reel: Rajini and Kamal.

‘Vice’-Captain V’kanth looks passe and Sarath Kumar isn’t in anyone’s line of ‘sight’, but Kamal is busily courting voters as he did heroines on screen. This eternal prince of celluloid love, however, wants to go it alone in all 40 constituencies making his debut real-time show a must-watch.

Almost all parties are besotted by and on their knees with bouquets for Rajini. But true to his style, Rajini still dithers with his promised party not even coming of age: but then even the Almighty has no clue on what this ‘Arunchalam’ hides in his folded sleeve. Maybe, his poll symbol should ideally be a question mark (?).

Now, where does that leave the voters, the true valentines of all parties, if only for a day; a day which, by some quirk of fate, etches a black mark on our finger? Well, the rise of NOTA is an unsettling trend: smitten once and bitten many times by some party or the other, this disillusioned lot has little interest but only anger.

Anyway, welcome to the world of passion politics!

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Jawahar T R