TN 2011: Towards a post Dravidian era?
The DMK has just been handed one of its biggest defeats. Political analysts say the worst is yet to come for the pioneer Dravidian party. Karunanidhis’ list of woes almost appears endless: corruption cases, family bickering and a generally vindictive political opponent with a huge mandate in power. This is a party that ensured the complete rout of Indian National Congress from the state – post 1967 to 2011 (and for years to come) the INC has never really been a mainstream player in Tamil Nadu politics.
The Congress never really recovered after that – in 2011 if it sought to re-enter the Dravidian arena by arm-twisting the DMK to allocate 63 seats in what many called an unfair seat sharing arrangement then the party has utterly failed. The genius that Rahul Gandhi is did not seem to realise that arm-twisting DMK using corruption cases after having turned a blind eye to their loot in the first place and then seeking to win by riding on their shoulders wins neither allies nor votes.
The DMK was a pioneer in social engineering – albeit masked cleverly in the garb of social reform for the oppressed. Whilst MGR took with him most of the lower class vote banks (they never returned, even 20 years after his MGRs’ death) the DMK retained most of the middle class OBC vote. Ever since MGRs death this party has fought erosion in its captive vote-bank through alliances, freebies (targeted at ADMKs constituencies) and competitive minority pleasing. It is certain that in the coming years this space is going to be slowly vacated.
There are still many leaders from the Dravidian stables that are capable of filling such as vacuum however to do so would require many a re-adjustment. The emerging dynamics of Tamil politics are likely to be based on shared socio-economic interests between economically well off communities and a general appreciation of governance in urban constituencies. Promises of freebies are no longer going to be taken seriously. It is doubtful if a person like Vaiko can adapt to such a change from within the Dravidian narrative.
Speaking of political narratives three out of four Chief Ministers worthy of mention from the Dravidian movement worked for decades in building the eco-system involving literay and cinema. The Dravidian political force found a vehicle to reach the masses not as much as through Periyars reforms as MGR’s dances and dialogues. All that Jayalalitha still has to do is to invoke the legacies of MGR. Karunanidhi for his share found an ally with the print-media while a brainy Murasoli Maran and his elder son foresaw the great potential of Television. It would be interesting to see which of the remaining players can seriously challenge the Dravidian veterans in shaping for themselves a new narrative.
Finally there is the issue of corruption.
Corruption at the highest levels of political leadership leading to crony capitalist ventures in real estate, media and airlines was fully take cognizance of. What made it worse for Karunanidhi was his own family abandoning all precautions in pursuit of money.
The people of Tamil Nadu have set a very strong and welcome precedent. One wishes the same be applied to all sections of the political leadership. The Dravidian first family got handed a bad defeat – it is time the first families domiciled in Delhi received the same treatment.