City Snippets
Chennai Corner
So what's the scoop on the reported spelling change by the elder son of Karunanidhi? Wife Kanthi says her husband has been "Alagiri" and not "Azhagiri" right from his schooldays....
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A rose by any other spelling

Is there discord in the Azhagiri household or did a reporter make much of a non-story? According to the wife of the union minister for chemicals and fertilisers, Kanthi, her husband has been “Alagiri” right from his schooldays. Even his degree certificate will testify to that. “There is no question of gazette notification and subsequent name change,” she scoffs referring to reports that her husband will swear an affidavit that he is “Alagiri”so that “Azhagiri” will not be mangled by the uninitiated. Kanti says his website is www.mkalagiri.com and his nomination form from the Madurai Lok Sabha constituency spells his name as “Alagiri”. So, what’s the to do?

The question is whether this is another case of a north Indian trying to dominate a south Indian? Well, the minister’s father and TN Chief Minister M Karunanidhi is a Tamil aficionado – who in his salad days took part in the anti-Hindi agitation – and who has made it clear that films that don’t carry Tamil titles will not get exemption from entertainment tax. Karunanidhi’s other son, deputy CM Stalin, even promised mothers in government maternity hospitals that their babies would be given gold rings (if they were born on his father’s birthday) provided they were christened with a Tamil name. Just in case this son seems wanting, think again, because Alagiri only signs in Tamil like his famous father.

And “north Indians” and “pseudo” Tamils like myself, how can you go wrong with a name spelt as “Alagiri”? I can imagine if you failed the banana (vaazhapazham) test, but Alagiri? Come on!

Switch a party, call a bypoll

Usually by-elections to the assembly are caused by the incumbent MLA's death. Three by-polls held earlier, but after May 2006 when the DMK came to power, were caused because the sitting MLAs died. Thanks to Azhagiri, the DMK won all.

But, of the five by-polls slated for August 18, only one by-election at Srivaikuntam is because its MLA (Congress’ D Selvaraj) died. The rest have been caused because of defections by MLAs just before the Lok Sabha elections in May.

Illayankudi is going to the polls because its MLA S Raja Kannapan resigned from the DMK to join the AIADMK. Thondamathur and Cumbum have by-elections because their MLAs, M Kannapan and N Ramakrishnan respectively, of the MDMK ditched the party to join the DMK. Bargur has an election because its AIADMK MLA M Thambidurai resigned the seat after being elected to Parliament recently. And since Jayalalitha has decided to boycott the polls, the seat is up for grabs.

Next up for by-elections will be Tiruchendur with its MLA Anitha R Radhakrishnan all set to join the DMK. He’s already getting the red carpet treatment in the DMK – he has met CM Karunanidhi, dy CM Stalin and shared a stage with union minister Azhagiri – after he was turfed out by AIADMK supremo Jayalalitha, There might also be a by-election from Mylapore whose MLA S Ve Shekhar, theatre personality, has been shown the door by amma after she found him hobnobbing with the DMK.

But unlike Radhakrishnan, no one in the DMK is breaking any doors down for Shekhar even if he has managed a meeting with Karunanidhi. Shekhar had these brave words after he was thrown out: “I am thankful to Madam Jayalalithaa and God for relieving me of the mental pain that I have been undergoing for the past two years… from the next session of the Assembly, I can function freely to serve the people of my constituency.” No one is taking bets on him, the only other Brahmin leader apart from Jayalalitha herself, getting a ticket in 2011! So, it’s premature optimism for a lightweight like him to think of a second term.

You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours

So what is the real reason Anitha Radhakrishnan switched parties? Because he can make the grafts case, filed by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC), go away? The probe on his allegedly possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income is complete. But he has not been charged yet.

But, a former colleague in the AIADMK O Paneerelvam (who was CM briefly) is in hot water already with the DVAC filing a 1,417-page charge sheet against him on corruption charges before the Chief Judicial Magistrate court at Periakulam last week. The charge sheet was also filed against six members of his family.

The police had searched the houses of Paneerselvam and his relatives in 2006 after filing a case against them.

The DVAC was all set to seek the sanction of the assembly speaker to prosecute Radhakrishnan under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Radhakrishnan may have pre-empted that by taking the road well travelled. Sample this: Jennifer Chandran, a former fisheries minister in the AIADMK regime, was charged with corruption, but once she shifted loyalties, the cases were put on ice. Similar was the case of Indira Kumari, also a minister in Jayalalithaa’s regime (1991-1996). She joined the DMK and cases against her slowed down.

Aladi Aruna was in DMK when the AIADMK went after him. But he joined the BJP and the cases retreated because the “party with a difference” and Amma were on the same side. In fact, none of the corruption cases filed against DMK ministers by the then AIADMK government have reached the courts. So do you still think that cops are not weapons in the hands of our politicians? Think again!

Azhagiri quote: Anitha Radhakrishnan was happy when he entered Gopalapuram (residence of CM Karunanidhi) easily whereas he was afraid of going into Poes Garden (residence of Jayalalitha).

Hoist with her own petard

It may not be fair or even politically correct but I am amused when cops get caught with their pants down, speaking metaphorically of course. For years, the aam aadmi has been a victim of the biscuit bandit – so called because the culprit gives a spiked biscuit making the victim unconscious and then hightails it with gold/ money – and the cops have not done anything.

Now, hopefully they will after a CBI inspector Premalatha, travelling from Mumbai to Chennai, was relieved of her gold earrings and chain (12 sovereigns) and Rs 10,000 after a well dressed stranger got in at Cuddapah into her First AC compartment, chatted her up, offered her a cold drink and the next thing she knew was when sweepers found her unconscious. 

By the way, the railway has been running a campaign about the biscuit bandit gang from Cuddapah. My question is: After all her training at the CBI, how gullible was she that she fell for a conman no matter how well-dressed he was? A minor question: how did an inspector get entitled to travel by I AC?

In another case, five cops including a deputy superintendent of police who came in mufti were thrashed and locked up by villagers of Melveeranam, near Vellore, because they mistook them for goondas! An honest mistake, I believe, because the cops came with a person who obviously was trying to con a local in a land case. After being incarcerated for three hours, the cops were rescued by their colleagues. 

Last heard, the cops had sworn always to wear a uniform while on duty...

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