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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2862

India: Tamil Nadu poll 2016– Electoral promises: false or genuine?

By Dr. Abdul Ruff

Apparently governments promote corruption because ministers and high officals also want to make money though bribery and illegal deals. Officals and frauds help the ministers and even MLAs and MPs also make family wealth. Once elected, the MLAs and ministers ignore the people and constituencies as they are just busy minting money.

Government and corruption

Both Tamil Nadu and neighboring Kerala follow the US style 2 party ‘democracy’ so that only the two big parties can alternatively rule or misrule the states. This arrangement has been going on in Tamil Nadu (formerly Madras state) for years as DMK an AIADMK alternate the government in Tamil state while Congress led UDF and Communists led LDF misrule the Kerala alternatively to help only their party people become richer. Communist parties have become viewing only their party cadres as the people.

The ruling Congress government in Trivandrum is completely corrupt but in order to garner votes of common folks it claims to be development oriented. In fact, the Congress led UDF government promotes corruption openly even in its own secretariat where all kinds of power brokers and traders including illegal mafias and corporate agents dealing with officals and ministers/MLAs strike deal for huge profits. Land mafias and gamblers also operate there, and they operate freely right under the nose of CM Ommen Chandy and allies.

In fact, many small scale frauds pretending to be ‘media persons’ and party people use the secretariat day and night for minting money through grey works there, minting huge money and increasing their illegal wealth. At times it appears they control the government. Some of them are lumpen elements using filthy expressions like the street anti-social elements. Obviously, ministers, officials and frauds share the booty.

It is unfortunate that the top Kerala politicians and officals have let them thrive in the secretariat and use them also to make illegal wealth for themselves. It seems many ministers and high officals are scared of these anti-social media people and others who could reveal the ‘secrets” in the secretariat. Very recently, an official in Karnataka government has been arrested for the illegal wealth he has amassed to the tune of hundreds of crores. Kerala government and opposition communists also support those illegal activities in the secretariat. Both Congress and Communists claim to work for the state and criticize each other for their lapses.

People are innocent as they think the leaders who get their mandate to rule will honestly work for them. But honesty is an alien thing for politicians; they are bluffers and by and large cheats. They first bribe the agents, party and voter san then loot the nation because they think it is their prerogative to do so.

When these rulers and opposition leaders let the anti-social frauds misuse state secretariats one can imagine what all they can do make money. The mafia operations in the Kerala secretariat makes the place like underworld where corporate interests are served and paid ‘quotations’ are struck to finish off select opponents and harm the people they don’t like. These ‘special’ people are well connected through latest technological communication gadgets with the help of which they spot and reach the ‘concerned’ people.

The rulers and opposition at times jointly create false alerts, mischief, tensions in order to divert the attention of people from their failures in governance. CM Jayalalithaa has not created any tensions but she got innocent poor people killed when she was in jail and her party gathered poor folks in the state to protest her arrest and to demand her release; and some of them even committed suicide.

The educated Keralites have no idea as to what exactly these politicians would do for the ‘development’ of the state and ‘uplift’ of the people. The Tamil scene is no different from Kerala.

Fight for and losing power

Like in Bangladesh, where the ruler and opposition leader are in a perpetual life and death struggle , in Tamil Nadu also the rivalry between DMK chief Karunanidhi and AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa are intense. Both send the other to jail for corruption related crimes. However, now Jaya cannot feel threatened by Karunanidhi if she loses because she did not punish him when she returned to power this time in 2011.

So far, Tamil Nadu witnessed a ritual poll fight between two major parties, DMK and AIADMK in alliance with other minor parties and one of them would win and rule the state while the other would win the next time and rule. As routine change of power between the top parties, politics also is controlled by them. Politics has thus lost its relevance and fervor as it is anybody’s guess as to who would win.

Since AIADMK is the ruling party, DMK hopes to win the poll this time on anti-incumbency wave and form a government. However, this time not only PMK is gaining momentum in the campaign but event the newly formed PWA is making its impact felt in the poll process. Hence DMK is not happy to retake power from AIADMK as usual.

Hoping to return to power on its freebies policy, the ruling AIADMK thinks DMK alone is the only party it has to face and hence it watches what Karunanidhi and Stalin do and say during the campaign and she incorporates most of the promises given by the DMK. However, it appears Jayalalithaa now thinks not only DMK would lose but the PWA would emerge as the main opposition party in the next assembly as she is sure her AIADMK of winning votes of the people of Tamil Nadu.

As the Election Commission is keen to provide a genuinely free and fair poll in the state by targeting cash bribery to woo the voters, political parties and candidates find themselves in a tight spot as they are unable to ‘distribute money to voters through ‘arranged’ agents in every area. However, politicians would ‘discover’ new routes and methods of distribution of money among the voters and agents.

Low status

Poverty ridden Tamil Nadu suffers from poor development projects. Rampant corruption, liquor culture, uncultured public behavior, unemployment and illiteracy, education without quality etc have put the state behind many other states. For this state of affairs both the DMK and AIADMK are chiefly responsible.

Tami Nadu has plenty of politically not matured, rather ignorant, voters who do not have much education not even at desirable levels. This is the cause of all the problems they continue to face the rulers continue to exploit their ignorance. Ignorance is a very relative construct, as is self-delusion which is independent of education level. All things considered, TN has a surprisingly assertive electorate.

There are significant and not-so-significant and also absurd poll promises made by the major political parties for the Tamil Nadu Assembly election 2016. First the PMK made poll promises even much before the elections were declared in the form of its plan for a future Tamil Nadu along with its proposals.

From promising freebies like mobile phones to promising the return of the controversial bull-taming sport Jallikattu, political parties in Tamil Nadu have left no stone unturned in their attempt to please the voters. Interestingly, BJP has promised to revive the Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu while the Modi government is opposed to it.

What is the one thing you will not expect from a party that is so obsessed with a few things like ‘Ghar vapsi’ and protections of cows that a large number of its party leaders want a nationwide ban on cow slaughter and beef is banned in many of the states ruled by that party? BJP criminals killed a Muslim saying he kept beef in his house. Hindutva people found that act a serious crime while most of Hindus consume the same very cheap meat. Mutton is costly. Camel meet is not available.

Meanwhile BJP is fast losing its ‘patriotic’ credibility. Not only bribery, corruption, illegal mining, illegal assistance to convicted Indians, the list includes insulting women. Once again BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj landed himself in a new controversy, when a shocking video surfaced on social media yesterday, showing a girl being forced to unbutton her jeans, right in front of the BJP MP.

In the video, Sakshi Maharaj is seen discussing something with a group of women and then a girl is asked to unbutton her jeans in front of him. Several men were also seen present during the incident. The incident took place in the house of a BJP worker, Maidan Singh in Uttar Pradesh’s Mainpuri. Reports also say that Sakshi Maharaj reportedly threatened to shoot police after they entered the BJP worker’s house. Sakshi alleged that the cops had entered Maidan Singh’s house without female constables and reportedly misbehaved with Singh’s two daughters.

AIADMK and DMK try to outsmart one another. This is the season for poll promises by political parties and politicians in Tamil Nadu which is going to poll in May. Tamil politicians as usual trying to impress the voters are busy making promises for the people before the elections, some of which are productive, some counter-productive and some downright outlandish.

One of the biggest issues of Tamil Nadu elections 2016 is prohibition of the sale of alcohol. Most of the major parties have promised complete prohibition in the state. In fact, DMK has promised prohibition in one go if it comes to power in the state. “What is that gradual prohibition? We don’t accept that. We are for total prohibition,” DMK chief M Karunanidhi IS as saying. AIADMK also announced prohibition in the state, though in a phased manner.

BJP defined irony when it promised the return of the bull-taming sport Jallikattu from next year. According to PETA, terrified bulls during Jallikattu are often deliberately disoriented by being given substances like alcohol, having their tails twisted and bitten, being stabbed and jabbed by sickles, spears, knives or sticks and being punched, jumped on and dragged to the ground. It seems BJP has adopted this perspective when it comes to Jallikattu.

As expected, DMK ally Congress also said that it would implement prohibition. To realize how important the issue of prohibition actually is in Tamil Nadu, remember the fact that the following video (which uses images of Charlie Chaplin quite frequently) is an entire song making fun of Jayalalithaa on the issue of prohibition which had gone viral recently.

PWA’s CM candidate, DMDK chief Vijayaraj Naidu aka Captain Vijayakanth’s promises are so entertaining that MEDIA decided to devote an entire section to them. Vijayakanth has promised a week’s celebration for the Tamil Pongal festival with public holiday for all schools and government sets-up. He also showed his promising command over economics when he claimed that prices of petroleum products among other things will be brought down, with petrol’s fixed at Rs 45 and that of diesel Rs 35. And why bring technology and experts to India to assist farmers? The Captain has also claimed that at least 5,000 farmers will be sent abroad every year to learn latest techniques in farming. The income of a family of each of the 12,620 villages will be increased to Rs 25,000 per month. How? Well, the Captain aims to build a total of 1,120 theaters and 1, 12,000 shops across the state to achieve that number. In short, the great Captain’s mind-blowing leadership skills can be described in this way.

Among the PWF manifesto’s highlights is the promise of two acres of land to beneficiaries, including landless farmers and poor people. Waiver of loans taken by farmers from cooperative and nationalized banks was among the highlights of the Congress manifesto. The same promise was also made by the BJP. The BJP has also promised freebies of eight gram gold to eligible women in Below Poverty Line category for marriage.

Elections in India won’t be half as entertaining if the politicians did not promise a few good freebies! The DMK manifesto has promised waiver of education loans, tablets and laptops with 3G/4G connections and 10 GB per month download option for 16 lakh students. It also promised smart phones for poor families. Because, of course, that is what poor families need the most. The party has also promised 20 kg free rice per month scheme in the state. This is not the first time, though, that the DMK is making promises of such outlandish freebies. DMK had in 2006 made promises to provide free color television sets to the people.

The ruling AIADMK last week unveiled its election manifesto at Perundurai near Erode for the assembly polls slated to take place on May 16. Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa has promised scrapping of pending crop loans in the party’s poll document. some of the promises made in the ruling party manifesto are 50 percent subsidy for women to buy scooters, raising the level of water in Mullaperiyar Dam to 152 feet, 100 unit free power for all families, free wi-fi at public places and free mobile phones for all ration card holders. Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the party’s mega Chennai rally this evening claimed that the BJP Government at the Centre has reduced allocations for various welfare schemes and blamed the AIADMK of having a tacit understanding with the BJP as it is supportive of the party in Parliament. DMK chief M. Karunanidhi, who shared the dais with the Congress chief, said the deep relationship between the two parties date back to several decades and the previous UPA Government offered many prestigious projects to the state including the Chennai Metro train service. Meanwhile, a total of 3,500 places have been identified as ‘sensitive’ in Tamil Nadu and adequate forces will be deployed in these areas for the May 16 Assembly elections.

Here are the highlighs of the manifesto: Free Laptops with internet for 10th and 12th std students. Maternity assistance of Rs. 18,000 100 units electricity free every two months. Jayalalithaa promises waiver of all farm loans Rs. 40,000 crore loans for farmers in 2016-21 Fisherfolk assistance to be hiked to Rs 5000 No FDI in retail Relief for fisherfolk to be increased to Rs. 5000; Separate housing for fisher folk. Famers loans to be paid Cooperative banks completely waived off Women to get 50% subsidy to buy mopeds of scooties Master health check-up and women special check up to be expanded to all districts. 20% land on SME industrial parks will be reserved for SC/ST entrepreneurs.

New granite policy; Lok Ayuktha on the anvil; All ration card holders to get co-optex coupons worth Rs. 500 for Pongal festival; 10 lakh houses promised through various housing schemes; One soverign gold for women ahead of marriages; free cell phones for all ration card holders; State govt. employees salary to be revised as per 7th Pay Commission; Rs. 1 lakh for temples of local deities; Aavin to provide milk for Rs. 25 per litre; Govt. to reimburse education loan; Amma banking card to improve financial services – to get interest-free loans and avail of government schemes; Free wi-fi at public spaces; Breakfast under nutritious meal scheme; Women to be trained in driving vehicles and subsidy provided to buy autorickshaws; Housing loan for govt. employees to be raised to Rs. 40 lakh Education loans of students who are still unemployed to be paid by the govt; Assures uninterrupted supply of power.

Separate homeland for Tamils in Sri Lanka

CM Jayalalithaa is not happy with the way the new Sirisena regime proceeds with reconciliation effort without enough preconditioned preparations. Taking her attempt to please Tamils abroad a bit too far, CM Jayalalithaa has promised her party would take “continuous steps” to attain a separate homeland for Tamils in Sri Lanka and demand that the Centre grant dual citizenship for refugees from the island nation living in the state. “So as to enable Sri Lankan Tamils live with full freedom and self-respect and to attain a separate Eelam, continuous steps will be taken. We will urge the central government to confer dual citizenship on Sri Lankan Tamils living here so that they can easily get job opportunities,” she had said. Noting that Sri Lankan Tamils have for long been living in and outside camps in Tamil Nadu, she had said her regime was giving them all facilities. PWF has also promised that Sri Lankan Tamils living in Tamil Nadu would not be repatriated without their consent.

Many IAS and IPS officers in Tamil Nadu have been transferred on the EC’s directives. The ruling AIADMK “strongly protested” the manner in which recent transfers of many IAS and IPS officials were affected by the Election Commission in poll-bound Tamil Nadu, describing it as “an apparent knee jerk response to motivated petitions and representations” from DMK and Congress.

An AIADMK team led by M Thambidurai MP, also Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha, submitted a letter to Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi in Thiruvananthapuram, seeking ECI to revoke the transfer orders, given that such a short period is left before the date of polling. “We strongly protest the manner in which such large-scale transfers have been ordered by the Election Commission of India in an apparent knee jerk response to motivated petitions and representations from vested interests.” We strongly urge the Election Commission of India to revoke the transfer orders, given that such a short period is left before the date of polling,” it said.

With barely two weeks left for polling, the newly posted officers would “hardly” have the time to effectively deal with poll-related activities and arrangements, especially on the law and order front, which, the party said, required detailed local knowledge and a grasp of recent developments in the area. Referring to the transfers and appointments of senior officials, including a DGP (Elections), it said that though there were no complaints on arrangements for conduct of polls in the state, the DGP who was in overall charge of the Police force, had been “divested” of all responsibilities relating to conduct of elections. Such large-scale transfers ordered by EC in the run up to the polls were “unprecedented in Tamil Nadu,” it said. “We wish to categorically point out that such large scale transfers in a state like Tamil Nadu, which is known for its strong and good governance, is counterproductive to the peaceful and efficient conduct of polls,” it said.

A shrewd politician Jaya knows her plea won’t be addressed by the EC with revocation of transfers but she just wanted to show she is not happy. The AIAMK supremo said the sole purpose of the DMK and Congress seems to be to malign the AIADMK and give an impression that the officialdom is with the ruling party, while this is not so. Except throwing the names of officers, they have not cited a single instance where the officers have acted in a partisan manner. AIADMK recalled that DMK leaders had in the past too leveled allegations against EC and are doing so now also.

Not only Tamil leaders but even national leaders like Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, PM Modi, among others attended public meetings to shore up votes for their respective parties. Both Sonia and Modi criticized the AIADMK government of bring the Tamil Nadu in a pathetic existence without development. However, it s not a national parliamentary poll, their impact in Tamil poll scene is highly restricted, even negligible. Whether or not Jayalalithaa would give a fitting reply to them also remains to be seen.

Poll promises are not the end of poll campaign and the onion polls may not necessarily be authentic. However we get an idea about what is happening in the state now. Only post poll reality would reveal how much of poll promises would be fulfilled by the ruling party or coalition.

PWA alleges that all opinion polls released by Tamil TV and print media are sponsored by DMK and AIADMK and the samples they have collected have not included the new voters. It appears, not only DMK and ruling AIADMK, but even BJP and other parties have earmarked hue money for voters in crores.

If Tamils have to improve their life conditions, there should be change in the governance pattern and a new governance cold only be provided by new political alliance like PWA.

Yes, poll campaign has got the fire in it a s intense canvassing of all types are being tried in Tamil Nadu. PWA leaders have e also expressed their confidence in the people of Tamil Nadu in voting their alliance parties to power.

- Asian Tribune -

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