Archive for March, 2006|Monthly archive page

DMK releases candidate list

Yesterday DMK released their candidate list for the forth coming assembly elections. DMK president and former chief minister M Karunanidhi will again seek re-election from the Chepauk constituency in Chennai. The list also includes several heavyweights like former ministers K Anbazhagan (Habour), Arcot N Veerasami (Anna Nagar), Durai Murugan (Katpandi), Ko Si Mani (Kumbakonam), Veerapandi S Arumugam (Salem-2), K Ponmudi (Villupuram), M R K Panneerselvam (Kurinjipadi), K Pitchandi (Tiruvannamalai), Sargunapandian (Royapuram), A Rahman Khan (Park Town), V Mullaivendhan (Morappur), Pongalur Palanichamy (Coimbatore East), besides former Mayor of Chennai M K Stalin (Thousand Lights). The list includes 77 graduates, 13 women and four Muslims. The list released tonight also includes the names of some allies who would be contesting on the DMK symbol.


Vote for DMK, get a free TV

Free colour TVs, reservation for minorities and free power for weavers are some of the promises that the DMK has made to Tamil Nadu voters in its manifesto released on Wednesday. The AIADMK government has implemented several populist schemes, and the DMK, its chief rival, doesn't want to be left behind. The government has a free bicycle scheme for students, so the DMK promises to give colour TVs to all families in the state. The DMK manifesto says pregnant women will get a monthly allowance of Rs 1000 for six months. That's in reply to AIADMK giving cash awards of Rs 1,000 in villages and Rs 2,000 in Chennai for flood victims.
There is more on the gravy train. The DMK says it will give free LPG stoves to poor families, arrange jobs for 3 lakh unemployed youth, provide good quality rice at Rs 2 per kg for the poor and ensure reservations for Muslims and Christians.

Source: IBNLive [Thanks randramble for this information]

How they stack up?

The seat-sharing arrangement of the two major fronts is out. And it makes interesting reading, into the minds of the alliance leaders, that is.

Everywhere there is talk of coalitions in politics. The positives and the downsides of this have been argued ad nauseum, so I have nothing to add to it. Except that coalitions are here to stay. This is because politicians find it easy to divide territories along casteist lines. In the future, we might have political parties forged to protect the interests of micro-communities. So don't be surprised if there springs up a new party with the sole agenda of demanding equal rights for the "34th descendant of the late Shyama Sastry (1609 – 1658) of Needamangalam".

The DMK, as analysts point out, has allocated seats in such a way as to signify that it ackowledges its readiness for coalition politics. Contesting just 129 seats, the DMK needs to have a winning rate of 91.5% to form a government on its own. Many political watchers have termed this as yet another master-stroke by Mr. Karunanidhi. He has been generous in awarding seats to the coalition partners, more than what they might have expected themselves.

On the contrary, the ADMK is contesting 182 seats. One can easily discern two reasons behind this. First, the ADMK's coalition comprises of only one large party (the MDMK). The other parties have all been allotted only single-digit seats. Secondly, and this is more important, the ADMK supremo still believes that her party has enough in it to form a government on its own.

Some may claim that the ADMK's confidence is not well-founded. But one must not forget that Ms Jayalalithaa triumphed in the 2001 elections almost single-handedly. True, the opposition wasn't as formidable then, yet the ADMK did the improbable then. This year's fight is similar – it is the DPA's numbers against Ms Jayalalithaa's charisma. Who Which will triumph? We'll know in six weeks' time.

Share in Government not in Seats – Captain Style

Well a lot of people have been predicting that Captain Vijaykanth's DMDK party will align with one of the major fronts in the coming elections. However, this did not materialize since he has been demanding a large share of seats. Now Vijaykanth is hoping that his party will be able to win a few seats in the elections and then he could become a kingmaker. He has openly stated that he would prefer a coalition government in such an event. However, it remains to be seen which party Vijaykanth would align in such an event. During his public meetings he criticised both the AIADMK and the DMK as corrupt parties with no concern for the people's welfare. He charged the AIADMK government with not providing him enough security after he refused to join the AIADMK alliance and said that he would not be cowed down by such threats. He said that he had visited all the districts in the state, especially rural areas, and found the condition of the people to be very pathetic. However, even though his meetings are well attended, political pandits have predicted that he would have a hard time even to win a single assembly seat. Furthermore, the local media has completely blacked out coverage of his party.

DPF Seat Sharing

With ADMK releasing its list of 182 candidates it formalizes the seat sharing among the various parties in the Democratic Peoples Front (DPF). MDMK which is the main ally of the ADMK in this election will contest in 35 seats, meanwhile DPI will contest 9 seats. Besides, the ADMK will allocate 2 seats each for the break away goups of the INTUC, and INL. One seat each has been alloted to Movendar Munnetra Kazhagam, Janata Dal (Secular) and splinter groups of Indian Union Muslim League and All India Forward Bloc. This brings to close the seat sharing agreements in the two major fronts. It remains to be seen if some sort of 3rd front can be formed by BJP and acor Vijaykanth's new party. However, this remains highly unlikely.

ADMK – 182
MDMK – 35
DPI – 9
INTUC – 2*
INL – 2
IUML – 1*
Janata Dal (S) – 1
Movendar Munnetra Kazhagam – 1
All India Forward Bloc – 1*

(*) – Splinter Groups

Vaiko interview with (part II)

It was reported widely that your mother was against you joining the AIADMK alliance.

My mother is my goddess. She is a very brave woman. In fact, she told me, 'Why don't you go to the AIADMK because these people [the DMK] will never allow you to grow.' I said, 'How can I go, amma?' I was taking her to my village, and my personal assistant and cadres were in the car with us. When they told me to go with the AIADMK, for argument's sake I told them that I should not go with the AIADMK because my image might be damaged, and people would blame me. My mother was sitting by my side but she just listened. At night, as I was leaving home, I touched her feet. She said, if you are worried that your honour may be damaged, you should continue with the DMK. When a reporter from a weekly asked her some questions, she was under the impression that I was with the DMK. In fact, till March, I also felt I was with the DMK alliance. So, she told the reporter that even if the AIADMK gave 100 seats, my son would not leave the DMK alliance. When this appeared in print, the villagers asked her, 'Why did you tell your son to go with the DMK when the cadres are not happy with it?' She then telephoned me and said, 'Do whatever you think is good for the party.' But when the papers played up her opinion, she got very upset. She felt she had embarrassed her son. Her health got affected and I had to admit her in a hospital for 10 days. Those who used my mother were heartless people.

Would you have listened to your mother?

This is not a family matter. My party is not like Karunanidhi's party. My party is not a family party. It is the party members who decide, not my mother. Not my family members. Is it true you had been contemplating joining the AIADMK-led front? I was undergoing tremendous mental trauma for the last two years. I never expected a total blackout of myself and my party on Sun TV during the Lok Sabha poll campaign despite the fact that I campaigned for the DPA in all the party constituencies. Even at the one venue I participated along with Kalaignar — in Sivakasi constituency at Arippukottai — I was not shown. Only Kalaignar was shown. Madam Sonia Gandhi was to address a gathering in Chennai. I came to know from a very responsible source in the Congress that Kalaignar was very particular that only he and Sonia Gandhi should address the meeting. The source also told me that Kalaignar did not want me to share the dais with Sonia Gandhi and make a speech. Even during the election campaign, I was treated like this. My hard work was utilised for the success of the UPA [United Progressive Alliance] candidates but at the same time, they didn't want to show my face on TV. Immediately after the elections, my party was not included in the public meeting of the DPA. I asked Kalaignar why. He told me only the parties who had representation in the assembly were invited. I then told him, 'The meeting is not going to take place inside the assembly but in a public place. It gives the impression that the MDMK is being pushed out of the alliance.' Only after this conversation was the MDMK included in the meeting.

Why didn't you speak about this earlier?

Let me complete what I went through. Though I understood they wanted to utilise me but at the same time they wanted to suppress me and crush me and throw me out, I decided to continue in the alliance. During my 42-day padayatra, I met lakhs and lakhs of people everyday, and only Sun TV did not telecast any visuals of it. The reward Raj TV got for telecasting my programme three times everyday was the cancellation of their licence. Using the communications ministry, they are promoting their business and destroying others who are in the same business. This has never happened in Independent India.

Did you ever speak about this to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh?

I have the greatest admiration, affection and respect for that great man. He is a noble person. I feel I should not divulge what I had discussed with the prime minister.

You said you were disillusioned with the DPA from 2004. Why then did you continue as an ally?

I thought, what other alternative do I have? I have to tolerate all this and continue. In 1993, I was thrown out and diabolical criminal charges were framed against me. Even now, I had only worked sincerely for the alliance. I don't know why they treated me like this. After the padayatra was over, on September 23, 2004, he [Karunanidhi] wrote an article in Murasoli in which he castigated me very badly. He wrote, 'These are the people who tried to capture our party and the flag. They are the villains.' I was described as a poisonous snake, a wolf and a bloodthirsty vulture. He wrote, 'These people will run away at the glare of the sun.' Yes, he was correct; not the rising sun [the DMK's party symbol] but the son [Karunanidhi's son Stalin].

Did he mention your name in the article?

He didn't have to name me. He wrote, 'The people who left the party some years back.' I asked him, 'Why did you write like this?' He said, 'I was angry because Aladi Aruna [DMK politician, who was murdered on December 31, 2004] addressed your meeting.' I said, 'I never invited him. He came by himself.' Then he said, 'John attacked Sun TV at the meeting. At the meeting itself, I had said I did not agree with that. John was ill at that time yet he had come to attend.' I asked him [Karunanidhi], 'I have not made any mistake. Why do you treat me like this?' He had no answer. Then he said, 'You told a weekly that you don't watch Sun TV.' I said, 'I said so in an interview to Kalki because I don't watch Sun TV. I am untouchable as far as Sun TV is concerned.' After the padayatra was over, they [Sun TV] showed a skit about a man going on a padayatra and falling dead. When my party cadres saw this, their feelings erupted like a volcano. But I stomached it. I was struggling inside. Why should we work for such an alliance, I thought. After you left the DMK alliance, Sun TV is showing your earlier speeches on Jayalalithaa. I am very happy. At least now they are showing my face!

In your interview to Jaya TV, you spoke about the prime minister giving ministerial berths to the MDMK.

No, that was not what I said. At one point of time, I thought of reconsidering the decision of not joining the ministry. When I asked the PM whether it was possible, he asked, 'Will the DMK drop one minister from their quota?' It seems the DMK got so many ministerial berths counting the MDMK seats as well. I was shocked to hear that. When I met Sonia Gandhi, she also said that the impression she got from the DMK was that MDMK was within the DMK — that is, an alliance within an alliance.

How do you describe the last few months of your political career?

It has been a traumatic period.

ADMK List Announced

Yesterday, the ADMK put out the list of 182 candidates who will contest the assembly elections on May 8th. A total of 51 MLAs were renominated including chief minister J Jayalalitha. Jayalalitha will be again contest from Andipatti and former CM and current Public Works Minister Paneerselvam will be re-nominated from Periyakulam. Meanwhile, former assembly speaker K Kalimuthu will be shifted to contest from Madurai Central. Other ADMK bigwings like D Jayakumar and Thalavai Sundaram will contest from Royapuram and Kanyakumari respectively. Finance Minister Ponnaiyan who has recently fell out with Jayalalitha and Sports and Youth Welfare Minister Inbathamilam were denied tickets. Among film personalities, only S.Ve.Sekar was given a seat. Others actors like Vijaykumar, Senthil, Murali were not given tickets. Also Radha Ravi who represented the Saidapet assembly segment was denied ticket.

Personality Watch – K Kalimuthu

Each week I am planning to write about a personality who will play a important role in the outcome of the assembly election. I will generally try to write about a less known figure but nonetheless important. In this weeks personality watch segment, I taught it would be interesting to write about former assembly speaker K Kalimuthu. He has been in the news recently since it was his famous call to Vaiko that led to a series of events that eventually brought MDMK into the ADMK fold. Kalimuthu is one of the best orators in TN politics. When ADMK split in the late 1980s after MGR's death, Kalimuthu aligned himself with the Janaki faction. His reference to Jayalalitha "Vasantasenai" was well known. But once the two factions of the ADMK merged under Jayalalitha, Kalimuthu became a fierce loyalist. In the recent assembly he held the post of speaker although he was a leading front runner for a ministerial post. His relationship with Jayalalitha has always been mixed. While he is quite indispensable during election time with his oratory skills, Jayalalitha usually assigns him a less profile role there after. Except him to be one of the star campaigners for the ADMK led DPF alliance.

Vaiko’s interview with

The question that is being asked everywhere is, how could you think of having an alliance with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa after she arrested you and put you in jail for 19 months?

Yes, that was what was on my mind when my party people suggested it to me. I knew people would ask this question to me.During the MISA [Maintenance of Internal Security Act] detention [during the Emergency in 1975-77], the Congress party and the central government indulged in character assassination against the DMK, and it was portrayed as the most corrupt party. The DMK described Indira Gandhi as Lady Hitler. Two of the DMK cadres died in jail after they were arrested under MISA. I was also in jail. Later, the Congress joined hands with the DMK. Is that not sheer opportunism? They called Vajpayee and Advani fraudulent sanyasis, and said Tamil Nadu should not allow them to enter the state. But didn't they ally with the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party]? In 2003, the DMK and Dr Kalaignar [M Karunanidhi] started talking with the Congress even when they were with the NDA [National Democratic Alliance]. Is this not opportunism?

But the DMK alleges that even while you were with the DMK alliance, you tried to forge ties with the AIADMK.

The DMK tried to ditch me, crush me and destroy my party. My party is above my personal interest. My party cadres are my life because they stood by me when I was thrown out of the DMK. When the entire party wanted to go with the AIADMK, I had to agree with them. Ours is a democratic party. I am not a dictator. I have never hidden anything. I had told Kalaignar that my entire party wanted to go the AIADMK. You give us at least 25 seats, I will try to persuade them to stay. But what did they do? I swear by the name of Anna [Tamil Nadu's first non-Congress chief minister, T N Annadurai] that on January 26, Karunanidhi promised me 25 seats. When I went to meet him on February 22, he said I never promised you 25 seats. Even then, I thought he would change his mind. When I met Arcot Veerasamy, I told him, unless you keep the promise, I will leave and join the AIADMK alliance.

So, if they had given you 25 seats, would you have continued with the DPA?

Yes, I would have continued.

Even though your party cadres wished to be with the AIADMK?

I would have tried to convince my cadres. That would have been a difficult job. But by the stroke of providence and destiny, good things happened. On March 3, the DMK conference was about to commence. By 8 am, I spoke to Karunanidhi over the phone. While meeting the press earlier, he had said, 'I told Vaiko one or two [seats] may be reduced.' I told him over the phone, 'Even if you reduce one or two, you should give me 23 or 22.' He said [he would reduce] 'One, two or three.' I said, 'You never mentioned three earlier.' His answer was 'one plus two is three.' I said, 'This is jugglery with words. I don't want to compete with you in this.' I even begged him to give 23 seats but he refused. Then, he brusquely said, 'Let the conference be over. Then, let me think over it.' By 1 pm, he met the press and said 22 seats would be given to the MDMK. The door was shown to me. It is an insult to my self-respect and the dignity of our party. Our district secretaries called me and said we should not go with the DMK.

Karunanidhi later said even if he had given you 25 seats, you would have asked for one more and then left the alliance — because you had decided that you would leave.

That is not true. He could have tried it. He could then have said, 'Vaiko asked 25, I gave 25. Even then he left.' You know, intelligence used for good purpose will succeed but intelligence used with malicious intentions will backfire.

Weren't you worried about your credibility?

What credibility? I haven't compromised anything. It is an electoral alliance. I have not compromised on my principles or policies. In politics, parties with different ideologies forge alliances all over the country. You look at history — didn't the communists support the Jan Sangh-turned BJP during the Janata Party rule [in 1977]? Did they then compromise on their ideology? One question I want to ask is: Which is more important — dynastic politics and family interest, or the welfare of the state? These are the two things that will be before the electorate. Let the people decide.

And what if people too raise the question of why you joined Jayalalithaa?

POTA was launched by the BJP, and not Madam Jayalalithaa. My party men were in the [Union] ministry, and that was a mistake.

But she was the person who used POTA.

Yes, she used it.

And, you called her a fascist then.

Yes. These are all part of the game. It has happened. Let us forget the past. If you stick to the past, no political party can forge an alliance with any other political party. So, I will tell the public, let us forget the past.


List Announced!

Not to be left behind, the ADMK led DPF alliance released the list of constituencies for the forth coming assembly election. The ADMK will contest a total of 182 seats. It will face off directly against the DMK in 105 seats. In Chennai, the ADMK and DMK will face each other in Royapuram, Park Town and Purasawalkam assembly segments. It is pitted against the Congress in 35 seats, and PMK in 26 seats. The announcement also means that the ADMK has shut its doors on other smaller allies like the TN Indira Congress floated by former Congress chief T Ramamurthy, and PT led by Krishnaswamy. According to sources in the ADMK, some smaller parties may be accommodated provided they agree to contest from the ADMK symbol. With this it brings to conclusion the seat sharing between various parties. Expect the announcement of candidates within the next week. The ADMK also announced that its leader and TN CM J Jayalalitha would start campaigning at the end of March. The campaign is interestingly poised and this might be one of the closest elections in TN history. At this point in time, no single party seems like being able to win an outright majority.