The recent furore over the BJP giving saffron hue to Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar was a telling commentary on the status of state politics.
Barring the statements of Leader of Opposition MK Stalin and occasionally the Congress, Left parties and VCK, the voice of dissent has of late not been as loud as it once used to be. One needs no great political wisdom to comprehend that the political agenda was being set by the ruling front and the Opposition, which has largely been reduced to a respondent in the state’s political mainstream.
Thiruvalluvar and Murasoli issues are a case in point. Instead of criticising the economic downturn in the BJP and AIADMK rule constructively, Stalin and company were busy answering the queries raised by PMK founder Dr Ramadoss about the genuineness of Murasoli land. That the state had passed orders to do away with trimester exams to conduct public exam for Class 8 when the Opposition was busy defending Thiruvalluvar’s religious neutrality should accentuate the misplaced role of the political opposition.
The eerie silence or rather narrowed media glare of VCK, Left parties and to some extent the Congress have also contributed to the DMK not being able to put up an elaborate show against the ruling front. Conversely, the BJP has successfully engaged the AIADMK, PMK and DMDK apart from acting on its own, like it did in Thiruvalluvar issue, to keep the third largest party in the Parliament engrossed in issues. The DMK, be it by choice or compulsion, has been harping on state-specific issues instead of exposing the frailties, if any, of the Modi regime, a significant digression from its vociferous opposition to the BJP a few months ago which ended after a visit to Raj Bhavan.
Worse, DMK’s allies did show as much enthusiasm in defending it as they did in sharing seats and poll funds a few months ago. A DMK senior, who admitted under condition of anonymity that it was for the allies to explain their silence on the ruling alliance, said that issues like Gutkha, NEET, public exam for classes 5 and 8 and agrarian crisis would not have reached the people if they were calm.
“Real issues that need attention are being ignored. Non-issues are being viewed seriously in Tamil Nadu,” DMK spokesperson KS Radhakrishnan said, refusing to respond to the pointed attack of the ruling front targeting his party.
Unlike others, DMK Tiruchy district secretary KN Nehru did not hold back. Speaking at a function in his native on Thursday, Nehru publicly questioned allies’ silence and said, “Attacking (criticising) us is like attacking you. What is the rationale behind (allies) keeping calm?”
Unsurprisingly, silence of its allies and ‘diversions’ of the ruling front have only made politicking difficult for the DMK.
Dravidian scholar K Thirunavukkarasu said; “Parties like PMK and DMDK are silent on Thiruvalluvar issue because of the benefits they get from the BJP. AIADMK must remain silent to stay in power. They rake up Thiruvalluvar and Murasoli land issues to divert public attention. BJP and AIADMK use such issues to cover up their failure on crucial issues like economic mismanagement and maladministration.