TN polls: Tiruvarur ‘boy’ gets rockstar welcome
DMK patriarch Muthuvel Karunanidhi is winning. The only question is by what margin. At 92, the “local boy” is out campaigning in the area he grew up before moving to Madras, where he made a mark in the literary world and cinema, to eventually end up in politics.assembly elections Updated: May 12, 2016 16:10 IST
DMK patriarch Muthuvel Karunanidhi is winning. The only question is by what margin.
At 92, the “local boy” is out campaigning in the area he grew up before moving to Madras, where he made a mark in the literary world and cinema, to eventually end up in politics.
Late on Wednesday evening, this tiny hamlet gave him a rock-star welcome, with hundreds crowding the narrow street through which Karunanidhi’s convoy was to pass.
He is late by an hour and a half but, as a young man in his 20s explained, Thalaivar (leader) is held up at another village where the crowds insisted he spoke a few words before leaving.
As they wait for Kalaignar (artist), as he is fondly called, a mimicry artist and singer – RV Nadiya Kumar from DMK’s Artists association of Nagapattinam – has the crowd in splits with his biting satire and sharp attacks on rival AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa’s regal lifestyle.
“She only flies and the crowd prostrates in front of her. But Kalaignar comes to you, by road, in search of you,” says Kumar, drawing wild cheers from the audience.
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His barbs on Brand Amma puncture her famous welfare schemes, especially when he recalls the delay in release of water from Chembarabakkam lake that flooded Chennai.
“Amma did not come to see the victims then as she would get infection,” Kumar rubs it in. Jayalalithaa is not his only target. He evokes lusty cheers when imitating Vijayakanth and his mannerisms, especially the Captain’s infamous threats to mediapersons and partymen.
Soon enough a jeep goes around announcing Karunanidhi’s arrival – throwing the crowds into the kind of frenzy usually reserved here for film superstars like Rajinikanth.
Then a group of some 50 youth in red T-shirts and waving the DMK flag rushes through, heralding the convoy. The crowd is abuzz with excitement as the headlights of the white Tempo Traveller come into visible range.
A powerful sound system blares his short speech, but even from a couple of feet away it is difficult to hear Karunanidhi, such was the noise of the selfie-crazy crowd. At one stage, the campaign vehicle was mobbed by supporters, each surging ahead for a good look at their Kalaignar.
Karunanidhi has the party manifesto in his hand and is reading out schemes from it, “waiver of farm loans” and the like.
His speech lasts less than five minutes, and the campaign vehicle starts moving after he thanks the people. On to the next village, where similar scenes will be repeated.