DMK's debacle: A case of family spearheaded corruption

Those who take the bard’s wisdom seriously would quickly glean that in the Indian context they are often hidden in the language of our great myths.

The DMK-led alliance’s debacle in the just concluded Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, where people have given an overwhelmingly massive mandate to the J Jayalalitha-led AIADMK front, has yet again underscored how reflection begins only after an event.

The verdict reflected a stunningly “silent wave” for the AIADMK and its allies, particularly the actor Vijayakant-founded DMDK, CPI and CPI(M), giving them over 200 seats out of 234 in Tamil Nadu.

The same wave-effect also gave them a two-thirds majority in Puducherry (20 of the 30 seats), where AIADMK had tied up with a new break-away Congress, ‘All India N R Congress’, named after its founder and former UT Chief Minister N Rangasamy who had quit the parent party.

Thus the DMK-Congress alliance in both these States, which also included allies like the OBC Vanniyars-based PMK, Dalit outfit VCK and another OBC Goundars-based outfit ‘Kongu Nadu Munnetra Kazhagam’ in the Western belt, had to take its severest political drubbing in the last 15 years. In Tamil Nadu, the DMK-front managed to win only 31 seats, conceding the formal opposition status to Vijayakant’s fledgling DMDK.

Several reasons have been proffered on why this dismal predicament fell on the DMK, from the fallout of the ‘2G’ spectrum scam to price rise and the power crisis and they are all on dot. But equally, an overarching view that points to a deeper malady perhaps comes from a very old myth.

Family, MK’s defining term

The myth surrounding the famous ancient Chola King Mucukunda, who is credited with having brought the Image of the great Shiva as Lord Thyagaraja from Indira’s world to earth at the shrine of Thiruvarur in the heart of Cauvery delta, may be an apt metaphor here. For, the 87-year-old DMK patriarch, M Karunanidhi, won from Thiruvarur, getting elected to the Tamil Nadu Assembly for a historic 12th time in his seven decades long political life.

In the elaborate myth of Mucukunda Chola, the King’s devotion and due diligence had helped him succeed in identifying the ‘correct image of Thyagaraja’ from Indira’s abode from seven similar Images and brought it down to Thiruvarur and built a temple for him.

But the DMK’s monarch Karunanidhi, known for his political astuteness, seemed to have ignored the message of Mucukunda Chola’s myth that resonates through all traditional discourses on his home-turf Thiruvarur.      

Karunanidhi instead chose to see his historic role and that of the DMK more in the image of the later Chola King, Raja Raja Chola, as exemplified in some of his own speeches. The ‘family’ became the defining term of that discourse, and the rest as they say is history. He won Thiruvarur but as a rationalist by ideology he substituted Mucukunda with Raja Raja Chola.

Warning ignored

Another metaphor that comes to mind is the ‘Rahasya’ (secret) implied in the Home Minister P Chidambaram’s warning at the very beginning of the campaign, when he said at a Congress party workers meeting in Karaikudi that it was going to be a “very tough election” and there was no room for complacency.

Even that ‘Chidambara Rahasya’ seems to have gone unheard.  However, his son and an AICC member, Karti P Chidambaram, does not favour “over-interpreting the poll verdict”. It was a “very clear and overwhelming mandate for the AIADMK-led front and hence all of us suffered,” Karti told Deccan Herald here.  

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