YEH HAI INDIA
PIC OF THE DAY
Gift your parents good health
Located beside the Vaigai dam, a short distance from the town of Vadugapatti, is the Rajshri Sugar Mill, the only factory in the Andipatti assembly constituency.
It is in this town that Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader V Gopalasamy, better known as Vaiko, is expected at 7pm.
Vaiko doesn't show up till 8.30. And does not speak till 9.30!
Before his arrival it is up to the two hired bands to entertain and engage the waiting crowd. One belts out songs in praise of Vaiko -- known as the third force in this by-election -- on borrowed tunes from popular film songs. The other renders qawwalis, also in praise of Vaiko, but targeted more at the Muslim constituents.
After his arrival, it is the sundry party functionaries that take over. They praise Vaiko and criticise his rivals. One even goes to the extent of calling All-India Anna DMK leader J Jayalalitha a woman of loose morals. Vaiko, obviously, is quick to cut him short.
At last when Vaiko speaks, he starts on a solemn note -- an obituary to a fallen comrade. Not a very auspicious beginning for an election speech, but then sympathy does fetch votes.
He moves on to praise his dear colleagues and mentions the name of every party worker in the assembly -- referring to them as 'his dear brothers'. This lasts another 20 minutes.
By now the crowd has swelled and there is pin-drop silence. Vaiko's reputation as a good orator is obviously well known here. Meanwhile, observers from the Election Commission arrive in a car, encircle the gathering once and go their way.
Many call Vaiko puratchi puyal -- a revolutionary hurricane. Well aware of that image, he tells the crowd that he has been fighting a dharma yudham -- fight for justice -- since 1993 (when he broke away from the DMK). As he borrows quotes from Tamil saint Valluvar, he stresses to the audience the challenges before his young party.
The speech is peppered with generous doses of praise -- for the Muslim qawwaal (singer), the dalit workers of his party, every religion and every caste represented in this constituency.
Through with the niceties, it is now time for the offensive -- against the DMK and AIADMK. But what it basically is, is a tirade against J Jayalalitha. If broken into subheads, the tirade went something like this:
"Jayalalitha says we, the opposition, stopped her from contesting the polls. This is a blatant lie. She could not contest because she was convicted of a criminal offence by the courts of the land. How can you blame the opposition? Did we tell her to be corrupt when she misused the chief minister's office for amassing crores?"
"Now she says the high court has set her free. Why doesn't she admit that the Supreme Court has still not said anything? And the Supreme Court can come to its own conclusion. Whether that will be to her advantage or detriment is anybody's guess."
Tenure as CM:
"Tell me, what did she do from 1991-96 when she ruled with an absolute majority? It was the darkest period in the history of Tamil Nadu. There was no law and no order. And the presiding officer of the House, the honourable speaker, fell at her feet every day. An insult to every Tamilian."
Just then there is a power cut. Vaiko pauses, raises his voice, and continues. He reminds the crowd of the Kumbakonam tragedy that occurred when Jayalalitha and confidante Sasikala decided to have a bath at the Kumbakonam mahamaham. The police bandobast (security arrangement) had resulted in the death of over 50 devotees.
If she returns as CM:
"If she wins now the dark period will be repeated. How did she win the last assembly election? She won because of her allies. Now none of them are with her, thanks to her corruption and arrogance. I have nothing against anybody personally. I am talking about ideals and the lack of it. She will terrorise the press and brutalise them."
The power supply is restored.
"She has cheated the people by increasing power tariffs, bus fares and the price of ration rice. She will become more arrogant if she wins now."
"The AIADMK has two strengths. One is the MGR vote bank, the other is the innocent party cadres who slog it out in every election. But there is a mafia, which is misusing this vote bank and the cadres to make money. Why can't the people see this? Why can't the cadres realise this? Do not spoil the future of your children by giving Tamil Nadu to this mafia.
The speech has entered the slog overs and Vaiko meanders into 'feel-good' topics -- to the real 'guardians of democracy' and the need for change in Tamil Nadu. The two main reasons he thinks will make the people seated in front vote for the MDMK.
Then, like all politicians, he signs off on a congenial note of caution: "Listen to me not because I am a good orator, but because I speak the truth. Give us [MDMK] a chance. We will make Anna's [Annadurai's] dream come true."
The puratchi puyal has had his moment in Vadugapatti.
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