Tamil politics is very much like Tamil films, it’s larger-than-life and characterised by intricate plots of revenge, humiliation and triumph. So we aren’t surprised that the caped crusader of Poes Garden, the new chief minister J Jayalalithaa, has made it among her first tasks to delete some portions of textbooks which give credit to former CM M Karunanidhi.
His poem ‘Semmozhi Vaazhthu’ features in textbooks and now that it is to be removed, schoolchildren will have to wait till political scores are settled.
The attempt to remove the poem is of a piece with the subtle manner in which political rivals and film stars in Tamil Nadu get their message across. In several movies, there are allusions to one or other political party or personage which leave the viewer in no doubt about who is being talked about.
Now this is hard to imagine in most other countries.
Of course, in such enlightened places as North Korea, the entire curriculum is by and about the Dear Leader, but imagine if US president Barack Obama were to put to verse his triumph over al-Qaeda chief in Abbottabad or Manmohan Singh were to take a poetic dig at LK Advani.
Of course, we have had instances of rewriting history here by the Left and Right. Mamatadi could use her considerable literary skills to pen an ode to CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat extolling his acumen without which she would not be in such a good place today.
The new telecom minister’s iambic pentameter in which he often takes a dig or two at opponents has mercifully not made its way into textbooks though he is also the minister for human resource development.
We have a better idea, on certain days of the week, all political discourse should be in verse. This way we would be able to read between the lines somewhat easier and interpret the hitherto overlooked nuances of party and partisan politics.