Tamil Nadu poll 2016: Parties release candidate lists amid low profile campaign!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal
That rampant corruption makes life extremely difficult has been a living experience in Tamil Nadu where the government systematically promotes corruption at all levels. Today, the TN government, amid freebies, in fact promotes the interests of corporate lords, big companies, rich people who indirectly control the government and governor.
Tamilians now say there should be a basic change in the government for reforming governance to serve the poor and common people, deprived of basic requirements of life, with commitment. They are keen to elect a responsible government that is fully committed to the common masses with a special programs to uplift them.
As the assembly poll in Southern tip state of Tamil Nadu in India is just more than a month away, the parties and alliances are busy with preparation and release of candidates for all 234 constituencies.
The ruling AIADMK, hoping to retain the government, has already released the party candidates for 219 seats while its minor allies have shared the remaining seats.
As poll fever grips Tamil Nadu, the DMK and the AIADMK are all set to get the campaign wheels in motion. In the next couple of months, Tamil Nadu is likely to witness a blistering scathing series of personal attacks as the stakes are high for every leader. Especially in an election that appears to be one that will be won on razor thin margins.
The manner of campaigning and speeches by key political leaders as intricately joined with their past professions – cinema. Jayalalithaa and Vijayakanth are both former cine stars. Karunanidhi too was a script writer for Tamil films and has recently penned the script for a teleserial. The way the leaders address people at rallies thus far one gets the impression that there is nothing natural about it. It is all about melodrama. People of this state have been habituated to emotional hyperbolic rhetoric.
Unlike in the neighboring Kerala, people in Tamil Nadu are not politicized. Their political IQs are deliberately kept at a low level. So politicians get away with not addressing substantial issues. Experts also lament the lack of focus on social issues and themes ahead of the elections. The prevalence of cult politics in the state, where leaders are seen as more crucial than their ideology or policies, is pointed out as one reason for such attacks.
The DMDK is now the lead ally in the Third Front, with the People’s Welfare Front (PWF) which comprises Vaiko-led MDMK (Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), the two Left parties and Dalit leader Thol Thirumavalavan’s Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK). The other two Dravidian parties, the DMK and the AIADMK, are yet to begin campaigns in earnest, but the Third Front is already in the thick of poll action. Ally Vaiko, a fiery speaker himself, has been at the receiving end of ire from the Dravidian parties of late, for his uncontrolled verbiage. “DMK offered Rs 500 crore and 80 seats to Vijayakanth to bring him into their alliance,” alleged Vaiko to reporters at Madurai on March 25. The DMK promptly sent him a legal notice and is preparing to sue the MDMK chief for defamation over what they call his baseless remarks.
Vaiko then went public with another allegation against Jayalalithaa – that container trucks filled with cash were lined up outside her Siruthavoor bungalow, awaiting cash distribution to voters during elections. While the Election Commission is quietly looking into these allegations, not much is expected to come of it. (Our reporters could not confirm the event). If sensation is the goal, the Third Front is certainly on the right track.
Political experts feel that apart from the high decibel sloganeering, nothing much of substance is available in the speeches of these leaders. PMK’s CM candidate Anbumani has proposed several changes in developmental projects, anti—corruption and anti-liquor policies while others have not come out with nay concrete proposals. DMK leader MK Stalin also talks about war on corruption but peole do not take his wards seriously as it was the DMK government led by his father Karunanidhi that imitated official corruption in the state as nothing could be done in the state without greasing the official and political palms.
The young are restless in Tamil Nadu. This 60 lakh strong segment of the population is the prime target for politicians in elections 2016. The party which convinces this section
of unemployed youngsters will likely have an edge in May 2016. Tamil Nadu’s political parties are fighting each other mainly for one section of the electorate this year. This election is all about how the youth will vote. Over 60 lakh youngsters will ink their fingers in May and with little ideological baggage, an aspirational and determined youth is calling the politician’s bluff on a number of issues. In this series, if only the politicians would listen to the youth, what the Tamil youth want from parties.
Over 85 lakhs youngsters have enrolled in the Tamil Nadu Employment Exchange, as of December 2014, the last date for which statistics are available. Of these, 9.3 lakhs are postgraduates and 19.8 lakhs have completed their undergraduate studies. Unemployment dole is given by the Tamil Nadu state government to those waiting on the registers of the Exchange for a minimum of three years, if they meet certain income criteria. As per government records, a total of 67,240 such people received this unemployment assistance from March to December 2015. The state spent a sum of Rs 12.8 crores during this period. Another Rs 9.7 crores was spent during the same period towards unemployment assistance for 22,514 differently abled persons. Employment exchanges are not able to find jobs for the ever growing educated youth. Registration, therefore , has no meaning for the new graduates.
Most graduates and post graduates swear that there is no point in trying for a government job anymore in the state as they are trying hard to find jobs outside. One youth who lost hopes of decent life in the state says he applied for a job with the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation soon after graduation. “I was asked for Rs 10 lakhs to get the appointment order by touts outside the Corporation…I do not have that kind of money. My friend from Karur who applied along with me got the job because he took loans and paid Rs 14 lakhs,” he claimed.
That is Tamil Nadu developed alternatively by DMK and AIADMK.
Poor and common people have no hopes left for jobs in the state. Most Tamil workers with meager wages and salaries could barely make ends meet. In cities like Chennai it is very expensive place to live in with a small job. Daily wagers struggle to somehow prolong the month as many days end without work or money. .
The issue of grassroots corruption came to a head in February 2015, when an engineer in the state Agriculture Department committed suicide by jumping in front of a speeding train. This high profile suicide whipped up a political storm with the Opposition hurling allegations of corruption in all departments of the state government. Agriculture Minister ‘Agri’ Krishnamoorthy was arrested on charges of harassing the official demanding bribe of Rs 12.25 lakhs for the appointment of seven temporary drivers in the department, as per the chargesheet.
A common battle faced by all students heading into colleges from government schools and many private schools in the state, is the issue of language. Shifting from a Tamil medium of instruction to tertiary education in English is taking its toll on youngsters in the state, who struggle to cope and often fail to a number of subjects simply due to lack of comprehension of an unknown language. Students feel English should be taught in a more focused manner in government/private schools by highly trained English teachers and Hindi/Malayalam/Telugu could be offered as an option for only those who want to learn the language.
Tamil Nadu’s education system has come under severe criticism in recent times for encouraging rote learning and for delivering poor quality graduates. Tamil Nadu has been scraping the bottom of employability rankings consistently in studies conducted by a private research firm Aspiring Minds based in Gurgaon. The state’s engineering graduates, along with those from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh, are in the bottom 25th percentile of employability rankings, according to the survey.