The Vaigai riverbed, like the parched mouth of Madurai, lies agape and naked in the hot sun. You can’t miss it when you enter the ancient temple town which is gearing up for a pitched political battle for the Lok Sabha. With temperatures scaling 40 degrees Celsius, the water crisis and long power cuts in the city should have been crucial factors this elections. The same have also squeezed the small and medium industries which are in huge crisis. But strangely these aren’t, say political analysts, because here in Madurai money is the major factor, and it’ll clinch the votes, this way or that.
Tamil Nadu’s ruling party, the AIADMK (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), and its bitter rival, the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), are the two big players in the picture. Though there is anger against the three-year rule of AIADMK chief minister J. Jayalalitha and her inept handling of the power crisis, the DMK’s internal fissures will hamper it from gaining much electoral ground.
The fight for control of the party between DMK patriarch M. Karunanidhi’s sons M.K. Azhagiri and M.K. Stalin threatens to scupper its chances in the state’s south zone. Azhagiri, MK’s elder son and former Union minister of chemicals and fertilisers, the sitting MP from the Madurai constituency and the DMK’s south zone secretary till late, was dismissed from the party on March 24. It has always known that Karunanidhi favoured Stalin to take over the party reins but Azhagiri’s belligerence had stalled it till now. His dismissal was engineered to pave the way for Stalin’s smooth transition. And to ensure loyalties, Stalin’s supporters were given LS tickets from the south.
The latter is perceived to be a “kingmaker” now but no one knows his exact strength. One way to prove it would be to ensure the defeat of the DMK candidates. Azhagiri has also decided to align with the BJP by meeting Modi and only a patch-up bid by Karunanidhi himself is going to reverse that move. A patch-up could be crucial to the DMK’s fortunes in this election if they don’t want to see a rout in south Tamil Nadu. Azhagiri has left a door open by making a statement that after all Stalin and he are brothers and anything is possible in future.
But journalists who have been following the DMK drama say Azhagiri is a creation of the media, that he has no real support among the cadre. They say the Madurai DMK candidate V. Velusamy, a Stalin man, has little chance because he is unknown to the people here and not because of the Azhagiri factor. Velusamy himself sounds uncertain, saying “there is some problem between the brothers but the DMK cadres are still with the party”. He’s hoping the water crisis and unemployment will ensure the AIADMK goes bust this time (five of the six assembly constituencies are held by them.)
Meanwhile, the AIADMK candidate, deputy mayor R. Gopalakrishnan, is a known personality in Madurai. “The reception I get from people in the villages is overwhelming, especially that from the poor. The power cuts here are because of the artificial problems created by the former government. We are trying to rectify the problems once and for all,” he says. Gopalakrishnan, however, refused to comment on the Azhagiri factor because “today the brothers may be enemies but tomorrow they’ll be friends”.
However, the Muslims who have been watching Jayalalitha’s every move have come out openly to support the DMK and the Congress. It has been reported that the Thowheed Jamaath feels that Jayalalitha has not said anything against the BJP manifesto and its plan to build a temple in Ayodhya. The AIADMK cadres down south too think that there is a possibility that Amma will join Narendra Modi once the elections are over. Here in Madurai, the AIADMK looks poised to win. There are rumours of votes being bought too in a systemic, scientific way. For now, that’s the only way the water problems and power crisis can be managed.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Many of the issues - lack of drinking water, dry river (vaigai) and rolling power cuts have been there right from DMK rule's latter half and that is something most voters understand and so the election outcome would rather be decided by other factors as well..
The only refreshing thing in Tamilnadu and
southern states is that saffron flag dont flutter there!!!
"The only refreshing thing in Tamilnadu and southern states is that saffron flag dont flutter there!!!"
"The only refreshing thing in Tamilnadu and southern states is that saffron flag dont flutter there!!!"
That is set to change. Seemandhra is all set to elect a few BJP MPs. In Andhra there is a NaMo (NAidu-MOdi) wave.
In Tamil Nadu, the voting turnout is very high, matching the record set in 1967. This is no good news for the Dravidian parties and the NDA is all set to open its account from TN.
Probably Kerala will be the only southern state where the NDA will not have a footprint.
They have voted time and again since the late 1960s for the same old, totally inept and administratively stupid Dravidian parties which are beset with nothing but total, unadulterated corruption and money making. None of these elected bums are in anyway qualified or, know how to address any of the problems perennially affecting the voters, and as for the voters, they themselves don't give a crap.
Why should the media or anyone outside the state expect things to be any different this time or anytime at all? The only thing to expect is TN is beyond any redemption, and no one to blame for that except the voters.
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