I always envy the kinda local-blogging that Publia does and wanted to something even remotely close. So here goes.
There's a by-election going on in my home town, Thirumangalam, in Tamil Nadu. And as the blog title indicates, it has turned into a "buy"-election - it's actually a competition to see who has the most money to buy people's votes. Various reports indicate up to 1,000 rupees (~$20) are being paid for per vote by who else, the ruling party, the DMK. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
There are 26 candidates on the ballot but it's actually a three-way battle between Ms. Latha Adhiyaman from DMK, Mr. T. Dhanapandian from DMDK and Mr. M. Muthuramalingam from AIADMK. And it's not a coincidence that all of the major party candidates hail from the same caste which may not dominate the region in terms of numbers but do so in terms of vocal and "physical" strength. While I don't (and I'm sure most of the residents of the town don't either) know enough about the candidates themselves and since the parties are treating this by-election as some kinda state-wide referendum and an indicator of the upcoming General Election for the Central Government, the stakes have been raised several times and the small town is literally turned upside town with daily clashes between parties, violence and arrests. It's probably too much to ask the police to keep the law and order in a town of 50,000.
For those who are familiar with TN politics, it's not news that the politics there is dominated by corrupt and criminal elements from alternating rulers DMK and AIADMK. But I'm hoping the new-found enthusiasm of citizen involvement in the government and public affairs after the recent mumbai attacks brushes off on this remote sleepy town in southern TN. While I'm hopeful, am also realistic. When parties drop envelopes stuffed with a thousand rupees in your house at night even if you don't want it, you are kinda put into a tough spot. But I say - take the money and vote for the candidate of your choice anyway.
It'd be interesting to see if DMDK headed by actor Vijayakanth comes out ahead as he's quite popular around that region. All this attention on Thirumangalam hasn't really brought any improvements to the town - it's still the same town that I grew up in 15 years ago.