Chennai Corner

Bihar Assembly result has an effect on Tamil Nadu politics as the Congress changes its tune and says the alliance with the DMK is here to stay.
Chennai Corner

Bihar V/s Tamil Nadu
The wedding guest (to Dayanidhi Azhagiri’s marriage) whose visit and statement got most talked about is Congress trouble-shooter and finance minister, Pranab Kumar Mukherjee. He sang a tune totally different from the one the PM downwards in the party were chanting till the previous day – about the Congress having a relationship with the DMK “for now”. Mukherjee gifted the ultimate wedding present by saying the Congress-DMK alliance was there to stay. Was Sonia Gandhi being kind after getting Raja’s exit and then rubbing salt into the DMK’s wound by taking away the telecom portfolio and giving it to Kapil Sibal?

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But after the whitewash suffered by the Congress in Bihar, it makes sense for the party to keep its friends. And maybe Pranab Mukherjee had great foresight because the DMK now knows that the Congress will not be adventurous and rock the boat too much. Leaders like EVKS Elangovan, who were demanding that the Congress be more assertive to the DMK are shell-shocked. Youth Congress leaders who were banking on Rahul’s charisma to deliver a blow to the DMK are going to hedge their bets now. “I hope the Congress behaves like a committed ally now,” taunts a DMK leader saying that party can rest assured that its welfare schemes will see it through at the hustings. But again comparing Bihar and TN is like comparing oranges and apples. In the case of Nitish Kumar, his campaign plank of development went a long way. His big advantage was that he was seen as being clean and there was not a hint of nepotism. In TN, people think corruption is a big issue and are quite sick of the “first family” being omnipotent.

The Arrow and the Archer
At the drop of a hat, AIADMK chief Jayalalitha calls for her arch foe Tamil Nadu CM M Karunanidhi’s ouster. Her wish has not been granted in the last few years, but that has not dampened her ardour to see his back. In the past, she was mouthing the chant only for want of anything to say against Karunanidhi because with an alliance cemented with the Congress, he seemed invincible. Interestingly, so far in the Raja Spectrum scandal, the hapless MP from the Ooty hills — incidentally the same hills where Jayalalitha’s retreat, Kodanadu, nestles and beckons her every so often — has been a very effective pawn in her hostile game against Karunandihi. Demanding his ouster is par for the course, but what she has focused on is exposing Karunanidhi’s weakness. Once Raja handed in his resignation, she went for the kill. Now, drawing a parallel between Raja as the arrow and Karunanidhi as the archer, she says, “I wish to point out to Karunanidhi that the time is fast approaching when the one behind Raja is made to leave his post.” So she makes it clear that it’s the mastermind she is after.

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As for Karunanidhi, he points out that her demand for a JPC inquiry was an afterthought, else that would have been the first salvo she fired. But Jayalalitha’s spirited reply was, “Demands can be raised one by one. And there are still more demands to be made.” What is true is that for two years she has been crying hoarse about the Spectrum scam, but it is only now that the issue has come together in a deafening explosion that has seen Raja going and Karunanidhi looking like a wounded soldier.

Brought Down from Cloud Nine
The two people who will forever curse the timing of the Raja explosion is Dayanidhi Azhagiri and his new bride, Anusha. In fact, like the name of the production house, he was supposed to be on Cloud Nine. Whatever the source of the funds that helped him turn into a successful producer (his cousin Udayanadidhi Stalin has also turned producer in the last couple of years and it is said that an independent film which is not distributed/ produced/ acted in/ sung in by a member of the “first family” has no chance of release ever) before he was 25, November 18 should have been his big day when the couple should have been the cynosure of all eyes. But despite all the smiles and the fashion parade put up by the “first family” with the men shimmering in their silk veshtis and the women dripping diamonds, the Raja episode was a downer as could be seen in all the speeches made at the wedding.

Mr K's Two Assets
One of the themes allies dwelt on is the expected feud in the Karunanidhi clan between Azhagiri and Stalin after the lifetime of the patriarch. “Sly forces” (remember DMDK’s Vijayakanth called Karunanidhi an “evil force” recently?) were trying to drive a wedge in the clan, leaders warned.

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Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader Thol Thirumavalavan, who was recently involved in a spat with the Congress and even called on the DMK to dump it (how prophetic his words were, except the Congress fed the DMK to the wolves and the latter desperately clung on to it) was pleased about the togetherness displayed by Azhagiri and Stalin at the wedding. Even after the next elections, the two brothers should be together, he beamed. Dravidar Kazhagam president K.Veeramani echoed the view, saying “You are all happy and together. This should continue for the DMK to form a government again.”

Actor Rajnikanth who went to Madurai for the wedding along with wife Latha, oldest daughter Aishwarya and actor-husband Dhanush, said Azhagiri and Stalin were the two assets of Mr Karunanidhi. “One asset should protect the other and vice-versa.” Can one take it that Rajni is finally, at long last, talking politics? The very fact that his speech did not set off the usual speculation about whether or not politics is his next stop, goes to show how even his fan clubs have given up on the Superstar ever carving a political career for himself to cash in on his enviable popularity. It stands to reason that films is where he is going to stay considering his Endhiran (Robot) has created such a sensation and Rajni jokes are the staple of SMS messages and email forwards.

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Mere Lakhs
The Prime Minister’s office, replying to an RTI application, has revealed that former telecom minister A. Raja’s investment in shares and fixed deposits have increased by nearly 170 per cent from Rs 8.52 lakhs to a little over Rs 23 lakhs during one year.

In 2008-09, Raja had invested Rs 8.52 lakhs in shares while his wife had invested Rs 3.04 lakhs, but during the financial year ending March 31 this year, the former telecom minister has Rs 23 lakh riding in the stock market. Good for him because the Sensex has made investors happy in the last couple of months. The property returns filed by Raja show that his wife’s investment had increased by Rs six lakhs.

But, in the words of a newspaper reader: It is really funny to see that Raja’s assets went up by merely lakhs, when CAG claimed he had cost the country Rs 1.76 lakh crores!

Targeting Nayan
It won’t be the first time a married actor has got involved with a sizzling actress and Prabhu Deva getting involved with Nayanthara won’t be the last such case. In art and in life these things happen. But after being extraordinarily careful to hide their relationship for the last two years (they got involved after Prabhu Deva’s oldest son died of cancer in December 2008), the two are in the news constantly for defying the court after the actor’s wife, Latha, hauled the two there a couple of months ago. When the two failed to appear for the third time in a row in a family court this week, the court has ordered notices be sent to both of them. Latha has filed a petition seeking the restitution of conjugal rights and has added one more prayer to her earlier petition – that Nayantara and Prabhu Deva be restrained from getting married. However this whole affair will end, one thing is for sure, there will be a collateral damage all round.

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One would think at a time like this, Nayanthara, the dreamgirl of many, will hunker down and bury herself in work because this is one area her fans seem to think, she can do no wrong because of her bombshell image. Instead she has stopped signing the kind of films that put her in the Rs one crore league. And as if she has not turned her life controversial enough, it’s the moral brigade, Hindu Makkal Katchi (HMK) whose ire she has now attracted. The HMK has objected to Nayanthara playing the character of Sita in a Telugu movie, Sri Ramarajyam, co-starring Balakrishna. In a blatant attempt to use the actor to garner publicity, HMK claims Ramayana is a “book of morals” which insists on the “one man, one woman” principle in life and therefore Nayanthara has no right to play the part “because she tried to steal another woman’s husband in real life.” Seems HMK is missing the point, Nayanthara is an actor and she can play the part of a nun if the script demands it. But clearly HMK is doing it for publicity, hence the moral policing act. One is tempted to ask whether HMK’s members are paragons of virtue.

135 Years of Brotherhood
In today’s times of war, terrorism and genocide, it’s the New Age gurus that are a magnet for souls in distress while the philosophy of brotherliness is not trendy enough to attract the legions. So, it was that when the Theosophical Society turned 135 last week, the event did not create waves. But the serene headquarters at Adyar brought together members to pay tribute to the two founders of the movement, H P Blvatsky and H S Olcott.

President of the Society Radha Burnier, said: “We are far from making universal brotherhood a way of life because we dwell on personal grievances and because of wars that deny brotherhood. But the beginning was made in 1875 when a few people met in New York and decided that the Theosophical Society needed to be founded. So even if we disagree with each other, we can still come close to brotherliness.”  According to her, India has the largest following with 12,000 members. The society attracted many members in the early decades of the 21st century when philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti was promoted as the world teacher.

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