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Battlefield called Tamil Nadu

A surfer talks of "wars" during the polls where voters have no choices.

india Updated: Apr 20, 2006 16:41 IST
TR Jawahar

The fight to finish is well and truly on.

It is not just a contest between two egos or personalities or political parties or fronts, but much more than that: a no holds barred clash between two competing vested interests vying to gain absolute control over every sphere of life in the state.

There is little surprise therefore that the electoral scene in Tamil Nadu resembles a war zone, sans any bloodshed of course, so far.

The simmering political rivalry between J&K is legion.

But that is only one part of the story, rather a familiar ritualistic sideshow in the whole scheme of things. The big picture is mind-boggling! Not a leaf stirs nor does the sun rise or set in this state without either one of them having a say in it.

A victory for one would mean not just a political triumph, but unmitigated success in various other non-political enterprises too, with proportional, but opposite, results for the loser.

The political gains, in short, would be dwarfed by a host of 'other' gains that would accrue to the winner... and his/her near and dear. To improvise on current political jargon, ruling TN is an office of fortune.

Now if the vested interests go beyond pure political stakes, can the battle at the hustings be merely confined to the political arena? Little wonder the battle has spilled over to several other fields too.

No colour TVs for guessing that the first tremors were felt in tinsel town. The Dravidian movement's umbilical chord with filmdom is legendary. The film field has always been divided down the middle politically, even in the days of MGR. With the film industry too often needing political patronage like any other industry and with its own 'products' in positions of power, there has always been a symbiotic relationship between the two.

Poll time is the season to call those favours. But this election, if filmi grapevine is to be believed, the pressure on film stars to perform on political stages has been immense. Parties are in a frantic bid to grab any filmi-face, be it a screen sensation or a sloppy sidekick.

For many, it has come as a blessing because they get paid for the meetings that they address. But even reluctant artistes, the middle level ones primarily, it is learnt, are being bullied into political roles. The threats often come from film financiers, who in turn are benamis for political masters.

The unseemly behind-the-scene manipulations are playing havoc with filmdom's fragile relationships. The sad reality is that just two of their fraternity are in the fray; the rest are just use and throw showpieces, parroting scripts here too.

Ironically, the leader of Nadigar Sangham and the latest political adventurer from filmdom has not a single filmi name on his political rolls. The Captain's natural army appears to have deserted him.

The star wars apart, the satellite wars, which are actually a few elections old, have crossed all limits of reason and decency, on the downside, that is, this time around.

Bless the soul who dubbed it the idiot box!

And how hi-tech can utter stupidity get: 3-D digital intelligent picture, stereo surround and all that, just to watch and hear such profound nonsense. There is not even a semblance of an attempt at being subtle about their slant: the blatantly partisan coverage and reportage is nauseating. The political talk shows take the cake. The anchor, decked up in his best suit and oozing attitude, does all the talking, of course, even as he 'analyses' political issues with set-up guests or invitees, whose vigorous nods would make your TVs rattle!

Pitched battles are now being fought in the print media too, from newsrooms to newsprint. The Marans' foray into print has set the cat amidst the pigeons in Tamil press circles. The other newspapers, which had hitherto been at one another's neck appear to have now ganged up, throwing all journalistic norms and wisdom to the winds. The black and red hues are all over the pages, with even journalists hitching their fortunes to, well, the political fortune-hunters.

Some newspaper barons, for their part, have even turned political brokers, using their financial, media and caste clout to secure loyalties or engineer defections. The clichéd printer's devil is now a wholesome reality.

The constitutional office of the Election Commission too is not spared. This umpire too gets dragged into the brawl, sometimes owing to its own indiscretions, but often due to its toughness, which is as it should be. One such raging issue, the transfer of Chennai Police Commissioner Natraj, has spilled over to the courts. The courtrooms, for their part, may witness more electoral process-related battles, pre and post poll.

And libel suits too, what with personalised campaigns getting rampant. Vaiko and a few media organisations already face defamation cases. But really, every word uttered, by all and sundry, would warrant suits!

The real battlefield, the voters' minds remain as fertile for politicians to plough and pick as ever. From being disillusioned due to lack of credible choices to being numbed by apathy and ignorance of their rulers' motives and interests, the people continue to be suckers, plus or minus, a colour TV, at best!

And even that would only help the TRP of one or the other! Heads or tails, we lose!

TR Jawahar is our regular surfer and can be reached attrjawahar@vsnl.net.

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