Blow Hot, Blow Cold
It’s been a very trying time for DMK chief M. Karunanidhi. Not only personally, but on the party front too—his grandson, Dayanidhi Azhagiri, who is allegedly involved in the Rs 16,000 crore granite scam, is still absconding and obviously Karunanidhi’s counsel to son, union minister M.K. Azhagiri, to get the AWOL lad to surrender has fallen on deaf ears. But Karunanidhi’s anguish was worsened after this week saw senior partymen washing dirty linen in public. In his usual letter in party mouth piece, Murasoli, Karunanidhi wrote: “What can cadres do but shed tears of blood when senior leaders, who are holding party positions, battle in the open?”
Not that rivalry within the DMK is unusual—it’s been happening for long with leaders trying to guard their turf. The most prominent manifestation is the simmering feud between Azhagiri and brother, M.K. Stalin, over leadership of the DMK after the 88-year-old patriarch bids goodbye. Acknowledging tacitly that he needs to put his own house in order on an issue that is making him “lose hunger and sleep”, Karunanidhi seems to have dispatched Stalin to meet Azhagiri.
So it was that Stalin, accompanied by his son Udhayanidhi and his son-in-law Sabareesan, called on Azhagiri at his residence, for the first time since the younger brother wished his older brother for his birthday on January 31. “I came to see my brother. I spoke on many issues with him … I need not divulge all to you people (media) ...,” Stalin said after the meeting but clearly a signal was being sent out.
But then again partymen are used to their blow hot, blow cold relationship. For instance, the two shared a dais in Madurai in March on the eve of the Sasnkarankoil byelection when Stalin referred to Azhagiri as “braveheart older brother” and the later referred to the former as “beloved younger brother” and cut to the recent meeting in Madurai, when supporters of both brothers came to blows.
Speculation is that Stalin wanted his brother’s support in taking action against union minister of state for finance S.S. Palanimanickam, which Karunanidhi has opposed even though his letter in Murasoli lambasts the union minister. “Why was he (Palanimanickam) in a hurry? Why such a press meet? Will you resort to anything and take advantage of my affectionate nature? Why am I here? Why is there a party leadership? What would happen, if such a situation takes place in every district?” he wrote.
But it appears that Palanimanickam can count himself out after the latest controversy. After all, with Baalu keeping quiet through it all while Karunanidhi has raged publicly at the union minister, it’s all but a foregone conclusion that Thanjavur constituency may have a new DMK candidate. Of course, it’s another matter whether DMK will win because CM Jayalalitha is already sharpening her knives to get all the 39 MP seats in the state so she can preen on the national stage.
Graceless under Fire
Incidentally, the only reason why Palanimanickam issued his so-called apology in Murasoli this week appears to be that he may have sensed that Stalin is trying to persuade Karunanidhi to replace him as district secretary of Thanjavur. And there's also his other fear that might still come true: that T.R. Baalu might replace him when DMK releases its candidate list when the general elections come around.
In fact, what is it about apologies by politicians that they lack grace and lead with egoism? Sample these three apologies:
Talk about lack of grace under pressure.
But what has been unusual is when senior leaders take their squabbles to the media, as Palanimanickam did when he accused Parliamentary Party leader T.R. Baalu of invading his Thanjavur turf. It’s another matter that Baalu already did that last May when his son (T.R.B. Raaja) got and won an assembly seat (Mannargudi) in the district and Palanimanickam, who is also the district secretary, kept quiet.
Baalu is a heavyweight in the party even though PM refused to induct him into the cabinet over corruption charges in the controversial Sethusamudram project. In his capacity as the chairman of the Standing Committee on Railways, Baalu announced the project but Palanamanickam sees a more sinister motive—that Baalu wants to migrate to Thanjavur constituency from Sriperumbudur (where, according to Palanamanickam there are enough and more problems that the MP has done nothing about ).
Palanimanickam has been elected from Thanjavur constituency five times. It’s true that Baalu comes from Mannargudi but he has been elected four times from Chennai South constituency and on the fifth occasion from Sriperumbdur.
Palanimanickam said Baalu’s family-owned distillery—Baalu’s son T.R.B. Rajakumar is the owner—at Vadaseri in Thanjavur district was opposed by locals who feared it would create environmental problems. In fact the Madras high court put the brakes on the project. “I do not know what goes on in his (Baalu’s) mind, but if need be I will jump on to the protesters’ bandwagon if he does not mend his ways,” Palanimanickam said. He also alleged that apart from wanting to commandeer his constituency, Baalu’s single focus was to further the business interests of his family.
This is one CD Swami who cannot shake off his past. Two year after being caught on a CD in a “compromising” position with an actress and several charges of rape, including by a former NRI devotee, the past has caught up with Swami Nityananda. It took six months but Swami Nityananda who was controversially appointed as the 293rd pontiff of the 1500 year-old Madurai Adheenam, a Saivite centre of learning, on April 27 was kicked out last week.
Arunagirinathar, senior pontiff of Madurai Adheenam, had called Nityananda a “learned and enlightened soul,” while appointing him. But after removing him, amidst a spate of PILs in the Madras high court and the uproar over his unilateral appointment, Arunagirnathar said, “By doing so, I have restored the glory of the ancient mutt.”
It’s clear that he’s going to be next in line to go for his defiance earlier arguing that he had done the right thing. For his part, Nityananda said, “I did not seek to succeed Desikar as Madurai Mutt pontiff. It was his decision to anoint me. I promised to step down if problems arose. I have no qualms about being removed from the post.”
The exasperated judges of the high court pulled up the government for dragging its feet on the issue. “Why have you been silent for the past six months? Had you acted upon the complaints, a spate of litigation would not have come before us.”
But even a day before he removed him, Arunagirinathar had argued that allegations against Nityananda were motivated, concocted and fabricated. In fact, he had tried to make a case that neither the court nor the government’s Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department could question his decision. But he seems to have fallen in line—and apparently sold his so-called protégé’ down the river—after the HR and CE department moved the court to remove him from the trusteeship of the mutt.
But legal experts say Arunagirinathan will be history because the government is intent on taking over the mutt. Many feel it may not be such a bad thing for the mutt which is very wealthy. In fact the allegation during the controversial appointment was that Nityananda had given Rs one crore in exchange for being appointed the 293rd pontiff. Government Advocate General A. Navaneetha Krishnan has made it clear that the HR and CE department had the power to act and it did “because Nityananda was an outsider and not a disciple of the reigning pontiff.” He told the court that, “Nityananda cannot be nominated on the ground of morality, decency and public order.” Besides, he points out, it’s only after the incumbent’s death can a successor be appointed.
Arunagirinathar has more reason to feel that the government will get him out because he has made questionable decisions in the past too. In 2004, he anointed Swaminathan, his relative as the junior pontiff. But soon sent Swaminathan out alleging that he was working against the mutt. Days later, he brought 13-year-old Bharanidharan alias Salem kutti samiyar but the boy went too. After that a disciple was chosen and removed later. And now he is in the eye of the storm because he not only chose Nityananda but defended his decision vehemently.
Good, Bad and the Ugly
It’s often said that the judiciary runs the country. And Madras high court, which recently celebrated its sesquicentennial, has topped having the highest rate of disposal of cases in the past few years. However, with Justice P. Jyothimani retiring this year and many more next year, the high court will have 10 less than its sanctioned strength of 60. It was last close to that figure only in 2009, but since then judges have moved to the Supreme Court (Chief Justice M.Y. Eqbal is going soon) or have retired, but appointments have not kept pace. And given the fact that it takes anywhere between six months to a year for a batch of short-listed candidates to be placed before the Supreme Court to get approval, one can be pretty certain that speedy disposal is not going to happen.
But for all the glory the Madas high court has brought, there are bad eggs in smaller courts. For instance, the sessions judge of Ramanathapuram, K.Govindarajulu, was suspended this month after several complaints from lawyers and litigants that not only was he corrupt but sleeping on the job.
Interestingly, there were similar complaints even from the courts he served in earlier but Govindrajulu, 59, was given an extension ten months ago after he retired. But amid mounting complaints, a sitting judge of the high court and the registrar (vigilance) held an inquiry and found the charges that he was corrupt, had no discipline (held late and irregular sittings) and dozed off in court were true, and suspended him.
It was a grisly sight that many who saw it might be haunted by it forever. A human head in a decomposed state, wrapped in a plastic bag, was found on the road this week alarming people who saw this ghoulish sight. It turned out later that sub-inspector Agoramurthy was heading to the burial ground with the head in a plastic bucket when a pothole (there are many all over Chennai city since the North East monsoon came calling last week) made the head tumble onto the road. The head belonging to an unidentified person, was all that was left because the rest of the body had decomposed. The forensic experts of the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital kept the head for DNA mapping of the skull and once that was over handed it over for disposal.
But the finding also indicates that bodies which end up in hospital morgues and especially those which are part of a police investigation, are stripped of all dignity. Apart from the disrespect by humans, bodies get decomposed faster because the morgues’ temperature is not optimal, and get nibbled on by rats. “We often tell relatives that we removed an organ rather than admit it was eaten by rats,” admits a forensic professor.
In addition, doctors and other staff are given crude implements like hacksaw and hammers because no one wants to use the electric saws for fear of electrocution. And if the skull is crudely cut open in a way that the brain spills out, all that needs to be done is to stuff it into the abdomen and stitch it up which is done often by ward boys and criminologists because of the shortage of forensic doctors.
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.
Pushpas ( and the media inspired by her ), antagonism to Swami Nityananda is obvious.
It would be easier on all of us if she explained in plain terms, what, according to her, this Swami has done wrong by having sex with a woman devotee - who, by all accounts, wanted to have sex with him. ( Accusations of rape arise from a much broader definition of the term 'rape', which arise due to obvious pressure from the media - if there IS such an accusation ).
Sex is not wrong. There is no need for written consent for a sex act by a woman in India as yet.
So is the only thing wrong with the Swami is that the feminist author sees the male in him?
@1D-1, "MALE unblocked"
Probity in public life is what the controversy on Nithyananda is about. Why must he keep his relationship secret(and in fact deny it and apologise for it, a story which he has changed multiple times)? He certainly receives donations from a lot of people(may be he is just laundering money for some elite thieves), so if he is not someone that he says he is, then the public have a right to know. Also if you had removed your blinkers and even read the article, you'd know that the author has only reported what others have said and not made personal allegations.
Of course you have to be taught all of this, but I shall not hold my breath expecting you to learn. Hope you can graduate beyong name-calling in your reply though.
Maybe it is your caste that makes you believe in the slander that Pushpa uses the media to propagate.
But in the overall pattern, you find an anti-male trend - where anything done by a male is hyper reported, even if it mere allegations.
There is no need to call you names. In fact, even responding to you is sheer madness.
I can't believe I'm seeing a reference to caste here. How can anyone assume what a person's caste is based on just their name, and then use it to form sweeping judgements on that person! And to top it there is the lofty assertion that you will not resort to name calling. Let me give you a hint: this is much, much worse!
I think such people will really take India forward.
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