Democracy Has Become a Laughing Stock in Tamilnadu, India

Irked By Recent Poll Defeat and Allies Cold-Shoulder Attitude, Jaya Taking a Risk

AIADMK Supremo Selvi Jayalalitha announced in a meeting of the party executive meeting at Conoor, Nilgiirs last Sunday that her party would boycott bye-elections to five constituencies slated to be held later next month. She alleged Election Commission was not in a position to conduct elections in a free and fair manner.

Presiding over the party executive committee meeting at Coonoor, she alleged the DMK has been “amassing false victories” by misusing power, unleashing violence and resorting to various forms of electoral malpractices”.

In a resolution passed in the meeting alleged the money power used by the DMK in the recent parliamentary and by-elections were unprecedented. There were also various other poll related irregularities including deletion of AIADMK supporters from the voters list. The resolution was also harsh on use of EVMs. It said that when the developed countries have disbanded the use of EVMs, Election Commission persisted with the use of EVMs in the country despite wide spread protest by her party and allies.

Not resting with several allegations against the ruling DMK, the party also alleged that polling officials, who were Govt. servants cast votes repeatedly between 3pm and 5pm on the polling day in favour of the candidates of their choice.

It may be recalled that Govt. servants were the traditional supporters of DMK from inception. Jay’s high handed actions against them during her rule up to 2006 including mass suspension and dismissal of Govt. servants, further alienated them from her party. They would continue to cast a long shadow on her political future as they fear that her return to power would mean taking away many of the concessions granted to them lavishly by Karunanidhi including VI pay commission pay scales. Her fear was therefore not unfounded so far as Govt. officials were concerned. Besides, the poll agents of her parties and that of allies were lured by money to silence them in polling stations.

With regard to the use of EVMs, barring her party and allies, majority of the political parties in the country never raised a finger of suspicion on its use. Tampering of EVMs was ruled out but casting of votes by officials on duty cannot be ruled out altogether as alleged by Jaya for obvious reasons. Such bogus voting’s may happen in a few places but alleged to happen in large scale in the state is questionable, as she has her own following among a section of Govt. servants too.

The real reason to boycott the poll may be altogether different. First, because of her allegation that the allies did not work in tandem with her cost the elections, alienated the allies further especially the communist block. The PMK which formed the main ally, switched sides during the last moment with Jaya, drew blank and it was a sore point in her relations with PMK supremo Dr. Ramadoss. The politically opportunist Ramdoss was famous for switching sides has become irrelevant after the worst defeat in the last general elections. Neither AIADMK would ally with him or the DMK in future. Vijaykant’s DMDK was already a staunch opponent and an emerging alternative in Tamilnadu politics may be the beneficiary.

The boycott call given by Jay would not help her politically but would only help the fortunes of Vijaykant’s DMDK which did not fare well during the last general elections, but was responsible for eating into Jay’s vote bank.

The next main reason for her boycott call may be attributed to her fear of losing as she lost in earlier three by-elections. The tradition is whenever a by-election or two takes place; the ruling party surely wins for obvious reasons. It did happen during her time also. It’s mainly because, the ruling party get maximum advantage with full official machinery, Govt. servants, money power and police on their side and naturally can upset any elections. This however should not deter the opposition from participating in the elections. It is better to fight and lose than to lose without a fight.

Politically, Jaya, would find it hard to satisfy her cadres and general public. The boycott call would in no way help her to strengthen her party’s prospects in the next Assembly Elections which is due in less than two years.

On the other hand with such people friendly projects and policies being implemented in the state, the ruling DMK combined with Congress at Centre, is growing strong with popularity surging in favour of them. The developmental works are visible everywhere in the state which was lacking during her tenure between 1999-2006. The state was virtually did not witness any socio-economic progress during this period. She could have done better but she chose to waste her time taming her opposition more particularly Karunanidhi, which proved her costly in the end.

Time should make Jaya wiser. She has lost touch with her cadres. She was furious in her last meeting in the AIADMK headquarters soon after the poll, when she alleged that her own party members/agents deserted the polling booths including one near own house. Saying this, she left the party meeting in a huff heading straightaway to her summer resort at Kodainadu. She is making a statement or two from there, but it did little to lift the sagging spirit of her cadres and followers.

If she is really interested in giving a tough fight to DMK in the future elections, she should contest the elections. It does not matter even she or her allies lose the elections. But then she can go to people with all her allegations of use of official machinery, muscle power, money power and tampering of EVMs etc. that cost her elections.

On the other hand, if she continues to boycott the poll as promised, it would be a cake walk for the ruling DMK allies and thrashing of Vijaykant at the hustings. Vijaykant would never win a seat but may cause a ripple in political waters by getting a few votes more.

All said and done, it is disadvantageous AIADMK if boycott continues and advantage ruling DMK as it would save them the time and energy to be spent in the elections. Jaya must rethink or reorient her political strategy keeping in mind the next Assembly elections would be held in less than two years. Sooner the better. Jai Hind.

A.M. Jamsheed Basha
A.M. Jamsheed Basha is a Chennai-based columnist, political commentator, who writes on matters of importance, political, social and self-improvement.