May 13, 2001


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The Assembly Elections 2001: Tamil Nadu

No tears; only anger at the DMK HQ

Shobha Warrier at the DMK HQ, Madras

One associates silence, desertion, tears and perhaps anger with defeat.

So, it came as a surprise when one found the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam headquarters, Anna Arivalayam, quite crowded despite the disappointing results pouring in.

The party workers too were disappointed and perturbed, but tried to put up a brave front. And with each bad result, one expected the party workers to leave the place but as time passed, the crowd only increased.

United they were in defeat and sorrow.

But all of them were in a state of shock, as a majority of them genuinely expected their party to win. " Thalaivar (Karunanidhi) has done so much for the people and we thought the people of Tamil Nadu would give him a fitting farewell as this was his last election."

"Ungrateful people. Anyway, we have learnt a lesson. There is no use working sincerely for the people. They don't appreciate anything. They will vote only the corrupt and those who have money. I was so hopeful and excited Saturday night that I could not sleep. But what a disappointment it was!" said Nallamuthu, a bus driver trying hard to control his tears.

The moment I started talking to Nallamuthu, a group of people gathered around me. It appeared they wanted to talk to somebody about their disappointment and frustration.

"We never expected this kind of a result. Thalaivar has done so much for the state! Still, why did the people vote for her? We cannot understand their sentiments. Yes, when we went to canvass, people told us that there was no money in circulation. What does it mean? They told us that the price of the Public Distribution System items was raised, the bus fare was hiked and they had no money. People think the moment she comes back to power, there will be a lot of money in the market, and also in their pockets. Fools these people are!" Rajesh, a painter, lamented.

"Do you think the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leaving the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam front had a negative impact?" I asked. "No, no," many said. But when Senthil, a daily wage earner disagreed with them, many others also joined him. "Yes, yes," Senthil said, "Vaiko leaving our front has affected us badly. Just look at the vote percentage, just look at the number of seats we have lost, you can see that asking the MDMK to leave was a very bad move. MDMK might not have won any seats but they defeated us. I will say it was not the AIADMK but the MDMK and to some extent the Pattali Makkal Katchi was responsible for our defeat."

Senthil's frank statement got nods from a few, but loud protests from many. One of them charged at Senthil and asked him, "Who told you Vaiko was responsible for our defeat?"

Senthil was undeterred. He retorted back, "I say so, and that is the truth. You may not like it. But whether you accept or not, the truth prevails. I will take up each constituency and tell you how the MDMK played spoilsport."

I had to intervene to stop them from fighting.

The second reason cited by them was the poor voter turnout. " Thalaivar built roads and flyovers, made the city clean and beautiful. Who are using these? The rich; those who own vehicles. But how many of them came out to vote? They do not want to bring back the DMK but they want progress, they want industries, they want all the facilities. How can we tolerate all this?" asked one of them.

After criticising the middle class and the upper middle class, Selvamani, a driver, pointed his finger at me and asked, "Did you vote, madam?"

No, I said. He was jubilant to hear my reply. "See, this is want I said." "But my name was not there in the list. Otherwise, I would definitely have voted" I told Selvamani.

"Whatever you say, you people are not interested in voting. Look at the vote percentage. I feel so angry at you people." Selvamani said.

It was then that Rajasimhan pushed himself through the crowd and declared, "Let me tell you something. I am a post- graduate but I am from a poor backward family and I work in a marketing agency. But without doubt, I am telling you, it was the poor and the middle class for whom Thalaivar did so much that let him down. I saw several rich people going to vote in their Ciellos and Ikons as they were committed voters of the BJP but I saw many like us going on scooters without even looking at the polling booth. So, it is the poor and the middle-class who are responsible for our defeat."

"When her nomination papers were rejected, we never thought that that decision of the Election Commission would turn against us and affect us so badly," said another dejected party worker.

Krishnaswamy was so disappointed that he said, "I had gone to several temples and prayed for the DMK but see, what God has done!"

The women supporters were louder and more emotional, and blamed booth capturing by the AIADMK and Jayalalitha's money power for their defeat. "She has made millions of rupees and she was throwing money around. Here, Ayya worked only for the people, and this is what they did to him. Ungrateful people!" they shouted.

A man, who was standing nearby, angrily said, "Women are responsible for our defeat. They vote only for that lady. And, see the turnout. Women voted and voted in bulk for her. I blame women."

A horde of women descended on him. From the very old Pathu to a comparatively young Rajeswari. "What did you say? Women were responsible? Say it once again."

"No, I meant not you..."

I left before their fight intensified.

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