Party loyalists seek divine intervention in TN
Offering blood to chopping off fingers, party supporters are trying all the means to please gods for favourable results.
From offering one's blood to chopping off fingers, supporters of various political parties in Tamil Nadu are trying every possible means to appease the gods for a favourable poll mandate.
Former legislator A Ramaswamy's daughter, CR Shanthi, made an offering of her own blood. The lawyer hoped to secure victory for the ruling AIADMK and its electoral ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), by her 'rakta-abhishekam'.
She drew out a litre of her blood at a hospital in Panruti that she used in a ritual in Thattampakkam village. Her prayer: "(Chief Minister) Jayalalitha should rule the world one day."
Another AIADMK supporter, a head constable in Salem district, chopped off three fingers to please a goddess, seeking victory for the party.
Jayalalitha paid some money to the policeman that attracted the ire of an organisation of backward classes and tribes. The body has filed a complaint with the Election Commission.
Last month, a BJP functionary in Madurai was stripped of his post for organising a goat sacrifice at a temple.
Secretary of BJP's farmers' wing Kottakkudi Saravanan participated in a rally for AIADMK candidate AK Bose. When the rally reached the Pandi Muneeswara temple, two goats were sacrificed to invoke the goddess' blessing for Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
Hindus here believe the gods will be angry if animal sacrifices are not made. So, after imposing a ban on animal sacrifices in temples, Jayalalitha withdrew the ban just before the elections, as her party members are among the most devout.
The BJP usually frowns on animal sacrifices.
For head of Kanisappakkam panchayat S Arivazhagan, it is a letter from Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani that he proudly shows off to the people. He received Advani's letter early April with a printed signature, telling him of the need for all round village development.
Meanwhile, the opposition DMK has sent a complaint to the Election Commission objecting to government stationery carrying printed slogans in praise of the AIADMK.
For others, it is the colour that counts. Arakkonam, a small coastal town, was painted green early April to welcome Jayalalitha on her campaign tour to the region. Even walls and lampposts were painted green.
The AIADMK's party symbol is two green leaves, the colour said to be the AIADMK chief's favourite.
While in Thanjavur, the AIADMK candidate hands out plastic fans with the party symbol, in Chengalpattu constituency, candidate KN Ramachandran has been distributing caps with Jayalalitha's picture and the party colours. Workers participating in rallies under the blazing sun welcome both items.
DMK sympathisers do not seem to mind the heat, shouting slogans in black shirts or 'veshtis' (a knee-length cloth tied around the waist) with red or black borders - the party colours.
A shop in the temple town of Madurai, Om Muruga Sarees, is selling saris with poll symbols printed on them. These nylon saris cost as little as Rs 145 each.
The AIADMK saris have the two-leaves poll symbol in large prints on the part worn over the shoulder. The borders are in black, white and red, with smaller leaves printed all along.
DMK saris have black and red borders with the rising sun logo. Shop owner Sathyamoorthy says he first started selling the saris during the 2001 assembly elections. On encountering success, he has printed several thousand for each party for the upcoming elections.
And for married women in a village near Vriddhachalam of Cuddalore district, it is their necklace that reflects their allegiance. They wear the DMK symbol on their 'taali', a gold pendant. The taali worn by married women in southern India, usually has the family deity on it.
This was started by a DMK supporter, Subramaniam. When he got married in 1955, he got his wife to wear the rising sun symbol in place of the household deity on her taali.
He started a new trend, now most DMK loyalists tie taalis with the party symbol around their wives' necks.
Loyalists in this state have evolved various means of drawing attention to their party - whatever the device may be.