“Solladu saivom, saivadu solluvom” (we will do what we promise and only promise what we will do) is the punchline that is raising expectations among the poor of getting washing machines and refrigerators if the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is re-elected.
The expectations were triggered by chief minister Karunanidhi’s son MK Stalin, who is deputy chief minister, soon after he filed his nomination papers from Kolattur in Chennai on Monday. His mention of these two gadgets has caught the imagination of the masses, many of whom received free colour TVs as promised during the 2006 assembly elections.
This time there are freebies galore – laptops for engineering college students, free mixer or grinder, free bus travel for senior citizens and free 35 kg rice per month to each BPL family.
But, the unwritten hints are what the voters are thrilled about.
Consider this late afternoon scene from a roadside near Nattarmangalam village in A Raja’s Perambulur constituency. Out of the six men gathered underneath a tree, five believed washing machines and refrigerators would be delivered. The lone supporter of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), however, admitted that Perambulur developed only after Raja came, but desperately hoped that the DMK would go this time.
“We will do even things that we have not promised,” was the refrain of leader after leader of the alliance partners sharing the dais with DMK patriarch and Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi. The grouping’s formal election campaign was kicked off on Wednesday evening from Thiruvarur, from where Karunanidhi is contesting for the first time.
Popular Tamil film comedian Vadivelu said, “When you press the DMK or DMK partner’s button on the electronic voting machine, the bulb will not light up there. The lights will be switched on in your house, the mixies will run, the grinders will run, the washing machines will run,” leaving none in doubt that Stalin’s utterance was no off-the-cuff remark but a well-thought out strategy.