For those of you unfamiliar with TN Politics, here's a crash course: There are two major regional parties - DMK and AIADMK. Both are equally corrupt and have leadership that's better explained as clueless and inefficient. Oh, by the way, these parties originally came from Dravidar Kazhagam. Over the last 3 decades, they both have been handing power to each other every five years. At the end, guess who gets left out? Ofcourse, the poor people! DMK is led by M. Karunanithi and AIADMK is led by J Jayalalitha. I dont want to go on about how bad they are as that would mean a never ending post. There are national parties (INC, BJP etc) but none have been of major significance.
Now on to the current elections... AIADMK has been the incumbent having been in the power for the last 5 years. I think they actually did implement a lot of good policies - the ones that I could remember are Firing of Striking public employees (teachers), Mandatory rainwater harvestment in every household, etc during their early days in the power. Obviously these policies were termed "anti-people"as it required people to do things. So what happens? They lose miserably in the General Elections 2004 (lost every seat they contested in). And guess what happens next, all of these "anti-people" policies were repealed and lot of sops were awarded to the masses. This is the one thing I hate about Indian politics, particularly the TN politics. They give these "carrots" to the masses (Free electricity to farmers, Free Sarees etc) and create a smoke and hide the actual bigger problems the state is facing. People (most of them are illiterate) happily take these carrots and dont realize the sticks that are actually coming later.
So, without a major anti-incumbency factor or a wave that would help DMK sweep the election and continue the trend of pendulum swing, what would Karunanidhi do? Ah, yes. More Sops! Here's the DMK Election Manifesto [Warning: PDF]. I think someone should send out a copy of this election manifesto to every voter out there so that they can see for themselves how ridiculous it is. Here are some of the promises made:
- Free Colour Television for every home without a TV
- Rice at 2 rupees per Kg.
- Maternity allowance of 1000 rupees for any "poor" pregnant women
And, what does "Amma" (as Jayalalitha is fondly called by her followers) do in response? Why yes, more sops! Bicycles, even cheaper rice, sarees!
And guess what, DMK's gimmicks have worked, well kinda. The election results are out. Election Commission of India (ECI) Website has surprisingly good graphics (using Google Maps, nonetheless) of poll results and its spread. DMK Alliance have won 162 seats of the 234-seat Assembly. While not a resounding victory, it still is a considerable margin. And for the first time in TN politics, there's going to be a coalition government as DMK did not secure the majority by itself. I think that's probably about the only good thing out of this election. Now that there is somebody to keep Karunanidhi and his sons (MK Stalin & MK Alagari, of which the former is tipped to take over the party after Karunanidhi -- he's 82 years old), I think they would be "relatively" careful.
Another comforting sign out of this election is the emergence of DMDK (I know, why cant someone come up with a party name which does not have "D" or "M" in it!) as a force to reckon with. I am sick of PMK and DPI and their caste based politics. I know every political party plays the caste card but these two are the worst offenders. Vijaykanth (DMDK chief) has not only established in a very short term that he commands a lot of followers but also he has stated repeatedly of his intention to run "clean" (read: corruption free) politics. He has stayed away from using the "caste card" although am sure he figured that into his choice on where to contest.
Hopefully this election marks a new chapter in TN politics in that it is the beginning of the end of Dravidian Parties' hold on to the power. Hopefully, no longer will we see back-and-forth political arrests and prosecutions and witness some actual governing!