By Aditya Aamir
Tamil Nadu’s is getting a bit crowded for political parties with one added every month. The last one was Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM). Thursday morning, TTV Dinakaran launched his party, Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam, with ‘Amma’ making its debut in a party name. Not even ‘Amma’ J Jayalalithaa’s All India Anna DMK (AIADMK) has that honour.
Well, TTV has beaten the rest to it and there is nothing the rest can do about it. Actor Rajinikanth, who was feeding sadhus in Rishikesh when TTV was launching AMMK in Madurai, would not make an issue over ‘Amma’ because he and Amma were not in the best of terms when she was alive and now that she’s dead, he is in the field, another actor-turned-politician after a string of them, starting from MGR, whose mantle Rajini has staked claim to. So, TTV can take Amma and keep her and say, if he wants to, “Mera Paas Amma Hai…” in Tamil, of course.
So, how many political parties does Tamil Nadu have as of March 15, 2018? Let’s give it a count, 1) DMK; 2) OPS-EPS’ AIADMK; 3) Haasan’s MNM; 4) AMMK of TTV; 5) Ramdoss’ party; 6) Vaiko’s party; 7) Vijaykanth’s party; 8) DK; 9) Congress (TN Unit) and 10) BJP (TN Unit). Add Rajini’s soon-to-be launched party, and it will be a football ‘Eleven!’
That is not just it. Actor Vijay will most likely add to the number and so may actor Vishal. Both have fan followings who want them to throw their hats in the political ring. Like said, Tamil Nadu is getting pretty crowded for political parties. Cross the road and you’ll likely find yourself rubbing nose with a political party’s office door, with party symbol and party flag hanging next to the shingle.
Actors-turned-politicians’ political parties dominate the Tamil Nadu political landscape and that has pushed the Congress to the margin along with the BJP which is trying to move ‘in’ from the margins. The Congress on the other hand is on its way out, to the margins from centre-stage.
TTV Dinakaran is the ‘sidelined’ AIADMK leader. He is battling to be Amma’s heir on the strength of being Jayalalithaa’s major-domo Sasikala’s nephew. Sasikala herself had claimed Amma’s mantle but then was put behind bars outside Tamil Nadu, effectively cramping her style and denting her effectiveness in Tamil Nadu politics. In her absence nephew TTV is doing just fine, giving the shakes to OPS-EPS.
TTV won Jaya’s RK Nagar assembly constituency a couple of months ago and has since then built up pressure on EPS and OPS, pressure bottled up in a pressure cooker, which happens to be his party’s “temporary symbol”, till he gets his hands on AIADMK’s two-leaves, which he laid claim to after splitting from OPS-EPS but was thwarted by the Election Commission. He took the fight to court and now the case is sub-judice in Delhi Court and TTV believes he will eventually get both AIADMK and two-leaves.
Meanwhile, he has the pressure cooker and loads of money. TTV has been accused of bribing voters Rs 6000 and a pressure cooker per voter to win the RK Nagar seat. Kamal Haasan mentioned the bribe culture in Tamil Nadu politics at the launch of MNM, and, without naming TTV, urged the electorate to reject bribe-for-votes politics.
“I’ll not bribe you; don’t expect Rs 6000 from me,” he told the audience at the launch of his party in Madurai in February with Arvind Kejriwal getting an English translation of Kamal’s Tamil. Both maverick politicians are on a similar wavelength.
Rajinikanth, who recently took to the podium to elaborate on his ‘politics’, did not remind voters that they are equally to blame for the bribes-for-votes culture in Tamil Nadu. Instead, he spoke of MGR and how MGR had a hand to play in his marriage. Much to the delight of his fans, who are eagerly waiting for the cigarette-flipping actor to launch his party.
Once Rajini launches his party, there is every likelihood that it will have MGR in its name and that will pit MGR against Jaya. The two were never in opposite camps when alive, but now that both are dead, they are – TTV with ‘Amma’ and Rajini with MGR. Haasan with his Makkal Needhi Maiam, has no time for either; he is comfortable flaunting his own name to draw people to his tent.
And Kamal knows who his main rival is – none other than Rajinikanth, who else! And while Rajini has been on a spiritual quest to fine-tune his politics, Kamal has been taking pot-shots at Rajini, pulling him up for “this and that”. So far, Rajini has kept out of a byte-fight with Kamal and the kind of man he is, Rajini will in all-probability stay away from ‘cat-fights’ with another actor. For the ‘macho-Rajini’ that will not be manly, MGR-like.
So, in the fight of the parties in a more and more crowded Tamil Nadu field, it will be the leaders of parties who will define the kind of politics each of them will identify with. Come 2019, one of them would be the king who will play kingmaker – no queen because the original Queen is dead and the one who could have been queen is counting bars. (IPA Service)