Tamil Nadu turns politically turtle and purple!

Tamil Nadu is clearly in the middle of political crossroads buffeted by confusing cross-currents as the state edges closer to the by election to RK Nagar located north of southern metropolis Chennai. It had been represented by the late Jayalalithaa.

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A familiar voice was reciting the famous poem by WH Davies.

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare. 

It was the political fixer MG seated facing the entrance of the Press Club in New Delhi. As usual, he was nursing a drink. His animated recital of the verse seemingly addressing a man dressed in homespun white – obviously a political type intrigued me.

The cocktail in MG’s hand had a strange hue – indigo – or simply purple.

“We are obviously not as good as you are in English, Mr. MG. Further, you never say anything without a political significance. Kindly elaborate,” the man seated next to him said in a treacly voice.

“Life is so full of care. Its odd absence in a hospital – during the autumn weeks of the only celebrity political heavyweight of the south – now sadly no more – Jayalalithaa rankles even more. The political developments are taking place so fast that we neither have the time to stand nor to stare at the forthcoming by elections in Chennai’s little known, dust blown assembly constituency – RK Nagar. On April 12, the day votes will be cast in the polling booths, the death knells will begin tolling for Dravidian brand of politics. The AIADMK – the political outfit founded by the late MGR will be dead as a dodo from that day onwards. But, the pace of political events is so fast that one will hardly have the time to even notice by standing and staring at it,” Minimum Guarantee said.

“It is a preposterous thing to say,” I butted in and plonked my backside on a chair, positioned adjacent to the duo. “Jaya has left behind a vibrant political body and it is bound to give the opposition in Tamil Nadu – the heebie-jeebies on April 12,” I reacted.

“The problem with you stupid journalists is that you expect people to believe that you are giving equal coverage in a fair manner to all shysters in the political spectrum. Everyone knows the obvious thing called paid news that peddled under the camouflaged as objectivity.  The only remnants of Jayalalithaa’s life comprise an interred body in a grave at the Chennai seafront, a bawdy busybodies’ bawling business of the shady kind an already forgotten legacy and footnote as a posthumously convicted criminal. Her so-called successors are fighting like Kilkenny cats – all working towards the singular purpose of destroying the other competitors from the same stable. In turn it could help the MK Stalin-led opposition romp home despite the DMK fielding a political lightweight. One even wonders whether the TN regime itself will last that long as the whole house of cards can collapse with the lightest of breezes blowing from the general direction of the MGR-Jaya graves sitting next to each other virtually cheek by jowl. Some joker may meditate, mediate and then levitate to any chosen cozy corner to corner as much dough as possible. And then, it will simply be a matter for the coroner called the Chief Electoral Officer stationed in Chennai,” the fixer observed.

“My knowledge about the south is next to zilch, so kindly elaborate,” the Guru’s new admirer chimed in.

I rolled up my eyes in despair and looked around me in sheer frustration. North Indians very well know how the land lies yet want to hear more lies – to make up their silly minds.

Thanks to the sweltering heat in national capital region [NCR], the small air-conditioned smokers’ room was overcrowded. Four journalists were playing a game of carrom, two were engaged in a game of chess and six others were eyeing the small screen of the television set in a corner.

The ‘fixer’ is a spitting image of the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s flunkey, Makhan Lal Fotedar.

The political lobbyist is known as MG which is an acronym of Maha Guru and/or Minimum Guarantee.

“The longer form of MG changes depending on the time, occasion, location and significance of each of my operations,” the man loves to tell those foolish enough to listen.

“One thing is always certain. MG does not stand for Mahatma Gandhi because I love my liquor and flaunt my cocktails,” is a constant line muttered occasionally during his con—corny-conversations.

Often, found citing own aphorisms terming and them as the Holy Minds’ Voices, he is also referred to with the sobriquet – HMV.

MG smiled indulgently at his new disciple and began speaking.

“Allow me to quote WH Davies verbatim here.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

Like cattle being herded to abattoirs, the stupid Tamils allow themselves to be bamboozled during elections by accepting cheap booze and cheaper wads of cash so that the state’s politicians can loot them in broad daylight. Else, why at all would Tamils have elected the Dravidian parties with a grim regularity since 1967 – in the full knowledge that the outfits have as much political policy as there is hair on the bald pate of veteran BJP politician LK Advani? Talking of nuts hidden in the grass, ask yourself the simple question – as to why would 122 MLAs even heed Sasikala Natarajan – currently in a Bangalore prison when she will soon be a political nonentity as her election as the General Secretary of the AIADMK is doomed to be set aside? The obvious answer: every political player suspects – Jayalalithaa’s alleged stashed wealth abroad – believed to be a little more than Rs.3 lakh crores being handled as per the whim and fancy of Sasikala. Reportedly, so far a sum said to be around Rs.1600 crores has already changed hands for the upkeep of legislators’ so-called rest cure in Golden Bay resort outside Chennai and its aftermath. The grapevine has it that the deposed CM O Panneerselvam had been promised 10% of that stash by Sasikala to propose her as the GS and CM candidate. Neither the money nor his eternal number 2 post in the cabinet materialised – and so he sat at Jaya’s grave first to meditate, took a walk and began to … er… ‘talk’. The 64 million dollar question is how Sasikala will actually transfer monies believed to be stashed in numbered accounts abroad to the legislators whose supports she needs to stay politically and also physically alive. The first major transfer of hard currency in electronic form from someplace to someplace will be known and then the entire booty will be lost forever, as the BJP types are not going let go of that kind of loot so easily. The female squirrel Sasikala has hidden her nuts and those look for them are going nuts, so far. But this Punch and Judy show will not be allowed to go on interminably. When the curtains fall, it will be the end in every sense of the term for all those whose political fortunes are tied on the side of Sasikala or are on the sides of those arrayed against her,” the fixer pointed out.

MG’s predictions are of the Nostradamus variety. They are puzzling and can be indicated as prophesies of any eventuality.

Thanks to his somewhat archaic language, he also is derisively called Long Playing Old Record [LPOR], cassette tape [CT] video-cassette-disc [VCD]. His actions have earned him other epithets. Some of them are political predicament predictor [PPP1], fixer-of the deadly instigation [FDI2], Doddering Lying Factotum [DLF3] and first-class rascally abomination [FCRA4].

“I understood so far, but what will happen to all that money,” the north Indian political greenhorn asked.

“You really need to understand the lines of Davies.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

Anything can happen to Sasikala before she sees broad daylight after her release some 4 years hence. She may be dreaming of a high-sky life in the starry heights, but the glances of entities like the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI cannot be termed as ‘beauties’ by any stretch of imagination. Jayalalithaa was a good dancer. The rumour is that her feet were amputated. Doctors at the Apollo hospice have denied it, but their stories – notice the plural – have more holes than Swiss cheese. When someone takes it upon himself or herself to watch the feet – as to whether they are missing or are not – the shit will hit the fan … even if the feet haven’t been amputated. The exhumed body will give the time of death under forensic examination. That exactly is the thing Apollo, Sasikala, a host of doctors, several central government entities and that British embalming specialist Dr Beale are trying to hide by repeatedly squealing contradictory tales. I would call that the dance of the death of dainty feet – in present tense or past,” VCD observed.

This was becoming too controversial.

I tried a different tack.

“Everyone knows that PM Modi placed his right hand to bless Sasikala during Jaya’s funeral. Obviously she has or had Modi’s blessings. In return for the lion’s share of Jaya’s stash abroad a section of the BJP could ensure in some way or another to remove Sasikala and OPS from the scheme of things and cobble a united AIADMK to be led by anyone with a little credibility left. One still hears that the actor Rajnikant is mulling over the situation. Thespian Kamal Haasan has begun making politically relevant statements,” I argued.

“Listen to what Davies finally said

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare. 

None can be sure as to when will Sasikala open her mouth. And none has the time to wait till she does. The DMK wants to return to power, but is handicapped by other considerations. Elections are due in Karnataka soon, but before that, those belonging to the party in TN would want a crack at wielding power because sentiments in Karnataka are dead against Tamils thanks to the Cauvery water dispute. At some stage, the AIADMK regime would fall due to its contradictions. Like the BJP did in Goa and Manipur, huge sections of the AIADMK legislators – perhaps – led by OPS himself – could walk into the BJP – hailing Modi and his recent electoral victories in UP and UK. Power is the dirtied river Ganges that camouflages all political sins. Take the state Congress unit chief in TN – Suppuramuthevar Thirunaavukkarasar. He was a mainstay in the AIADMK under MGR, touted as Jaya’s protector when her fight against her foes began, later became a Rajya Sabha member from MP to be made a central minister during the NDA regime and is now with the Congress, talking political turkey with the DMK. He is a miniaturised and personified version of TN’s political chameleons. It was the DMK which had carried front page exposes on the same Thirunaavukkarasar’s ill-gotten wealth in the 80’s several times. The DMK, AIADMK, PMK, MDMK and DMDK to name just 5 have all been party of NDA and UPA bandwagons directly and/or indirectly at some time or other. Politicians have no sense of shame. And I have no shame in helping the shameless,” FCRA quipped with a guffaw.

“But the Dravidian parties hate the BJP and could never trust them. More importantly, why would AIADMK politicians levitate to the BJP which has no base in TN?” I registered my somewhat feeble protest.

“You are clearly blind beyond the tip of your bulbous nose. For many like OPS, Vijaykant, Jaya’s niece Deepa and other flotsam and jetsam of Tamil Nadu – at this moment – the DMK doors are closed. To be relevant in politics every politician needs a saleable brand with some working capital. BJP – riding on the shoulders of Modi and wielding power at the centre is exactly that. Finding an excuse to be in any camp is as easy as falling off a log in politics,” PPP cackled in response.

“It would still not get the BJP its ground strength or the money from Sasikala,” I averred.

“Ha! Each Dravidian party constituency satrap will arrive with his band of followers and thus create the infrastructure for the BJP at the beginning. From then, everyone will play by the ear or as far as any of those politically blind bats can see. More seriously, when cornered inside her cell, Sasikala may never reveal the details of the stash. So be it. After all, Modi had promised to bring back the wealth stashed abroad and that promise has been conveniently forgotten for now – thanks to his success in unearthing black money through demonetisation. The stash would never be useful to her – even when she emerges from prison … for there is something called nemesis – which strikes when one least expects it to,” DLF spoke in a grim voice, colder than that of the devil.

I had had enough.

“Your drink has a strange colour,” I interpolated to obviously change the subject.

“It is called ‘Indigo’. It contains two types of liqueurs called Curaçao with a dash of Gin and a small dose of E133 dye or Brilliant Blue FCF that lends the purple colour. The due – used in various ‘edible’ applications like canned and/or bottled food, dried soup powders, ice cream, dairy products, mouthwash, soap, shampoos and toilet cleaning liquids. The name Indigo, its colour, its uses and the rarely heard abuses are the fulcrum of politics the world over. How many would know that one of the main sources of Britain’s wealth during colonial times was opium cultivated in India under the guise of indigo plantations? In the 18th century, Britain had a huge trade deficit with Qing dynasty China and so in 1773, the Company created a British monopoly on opium buying in Bengal, India by prohibiting the licensing of opium farmers and private cultivation. The monopoly system established in 1799 continued with minimal changes until 1947. As the opium trade was illegal in China, Company ships could not carry opium to China. So the opium produced in Bengal was sold in Calcutta on condition that it be sent to China. Despite the Chinese ban on opium imports, reaffirmed in 1799 by the Jiaqing Emperor, the drug was smuggled into China from Bengal by traffickers and agency houses such as Jardine, Matheson & Co and Dent & Co. in amounts averaging 900 tons a year. The proceeds of the drug-smugglers landing their cargoes at Lintin Island were paid into the Company’s factory at Canton and by 1825, most of the money needed to buy tea in China was raised by the illegal opium trade. The Company established a group of trading settlements centred on the Straits of Malacca called the Straits Settlements in 1826 to protect its trade route to China and to combat local piracy. The Settlements were also used as penal settlements for Indian civilian and military prisoners. Old man Gandhi realised this bitter truth. India’s real struggle for freedom under Gandhi began in Champaran – now in Bihar – where he fought the case of Indigo farmers. It was a dying commercial dye. None bothers to seriously report that the indigo crop also had a different use. The farmers and labourers were forced to grow indigo instead of food crops by the colonial British. indigo was bought from them at a very low price to export to China as opium.”

“What has that got to do with what I asked – the drink?”

“Patience is a virtue, boyo! This is the era of social media. It is comparable to what Lenin visualised as “socialism.” He famously said thus: Under socialism all will govern in turn and will soon become accustomed to no one governing. He then added a caveat to it: When there is state there can be no freedom, but when there is freedom there will be no state. In the 16th century tasty and juicy oranges were brought to the island of Curaçao by Spanish colonizers. The fruit, however, struggled to survive in the dry tropic climate and the fruits were stunted and bitter. A few years later, someone noticed that the skin of these oranges contained an aromatic ingredient to flavour oils and essences. The oily liqueur – Curacao was the next natural step. One can keep arguing as to which state administers the nation Curaçao – a self regime or the one in Suriname or the Netherlands. The same can be said of Tamil Nadu and several other states of India. Indigo is also one of the largest privately owned airlines in India said to be part owned by Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra. Indigo is a colour or dye, the base for opium that generates illegal cash, an apposition to political intoxication and reportedly an airline that takes passengers on punctual heights! All these attributes are linked in some way or other to colonial rule and its seeming Benami successor – the Indian National Congress – now a private limited company owned by Sonia Gandhi and family. And that, my dear fellow, is my cocktail – Indigo – politically relevant and potent – all in one smooth drink!”

The Delhi dunderhead dressed in Khadi broke into Punjabi and exclaimed, “Sirji, tussi great ho!”

Not wishing to hear more flattery, I mumbled an excuse and escaped.

[1]

The commonly known expansion of PPP is Purchasing Power Parity.

Else, in the subcontinent, it stands for Public-Private-Partnership and Pakistan Peoples’ Party

[2]

Often FDI denotes Foreign Direct Investment.

[3]

The acronym DLF is a company incorporated in India in the year 1946 under the name and style Delhi, Land & Finance.

[4]

FCRA is the short form of a law in India meant to regulate funds received from abroad for non-commercial purposes – or Foreign Contribution Regulation Act 2010.

Author: haritsv

42 years' unblemished record of being an investigative journalist. Print quality journalist in 3 languages - English, Tamil, Hindi. Widely travelled, worldwide. Cantankerous and completely honest.

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