May 3, 2009 11:53:49 pm
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhis breakfast-to-lunch fast on Monday was perhaps not quite the spur of the moment decision taken during his morning drive on Marina beach as the DMK has made it out be. Karunanidhi knew that Basil Rajapaksa,Sri Lankas envoy and brother of the President,had assured the Indian government that short of a ceasefire,the Sri Lankan government would do whatever it can to appease angry Indian Tamils. Rajapaksa was conscious of the Indian governments predicament on the eve of elections. Sri Lanka was willing to give an assurance that there would be no aerial bombardment and no use of heavy weaponry,including tanks and missiles,in the area remaining with the LTTE. The Sri Lankan National Security Council was to meet at noon on Monday to make the announcement. When the meeting was over and the concessions announced,Karunanidhi called off his hunger strike and claimed that it was a virtual ceasefire. If Karunanidhis fast was indeed impulsive,then his staff must be given all credit for acting with lightning speed. While the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister announced he would squat outside the Annadurai memorial,his retainers rushed to make arrangements in a matter of minutes. This included transporting a double bed from home for the ageing leader who suffers from a back problem,air coolers and a wooden partition to ensure him privacy.
A united front
Karunanidhis fast was an occasion for the first family of Tamil Nadu to put up a united front. Some 30 family members,including four grandchildren,gathered where the patriarch was staging his fast. The two wives of the chief minister,Dayalu and Dharma,were at his side. So were all his children,except elder son Azhagiri who was away in Madurai. Karunanidhis nephews,Dayanidhi Maran,who is standing for election on a DMK ticket from central Chennai,and Kalanidhi Maran,who runs the media empire,were present. In fact,Sun TV gave a blow-by-blow live coverage of the fast. The patch up with the nephews took place,reportedly after the Karunanidhi family was paid adequately for relinquishing financial claims in the booming media company.
Mind your language
Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh got into hot water for his remark at a rally that if Mayawati tried to harass Congress workers,the UPA government had the CBI under its control and knew how to deal with her. Singh has made an even more politically incorrect remark in an interview with The Hindu. He was quoted as saying that not all Dalits were backing Mayawati,only chamars were. Using the word chamar is punishable under the Atrocities Act.
Above the high command
When the Prime Minister flew down to Kochi,he telephoned the Congress candidate from Thiruvanthapuram,Shashi Tharoor,wishing him luck. The PMs polite gesture,perhaps at the prodding of his principal secretary TKA Nair,has backfired. The grand old man of the Congress party in Kerala,M Karunankaran,is fuming because Singh forgot to call him. At their election rallies the Communists regularly joked that Tharoor,the outsider,had been imposed on the party by someone even higher than the Congress high command. They said the Congress high command could hardly be happy with Tharoor,considering that in one of his books he has lampooned the party and the Gandhis,describing Congressmen as lumps of flesh wrapped around in khadi and writing that Sonia Gandhi had no idea of India. The Marxists claimed the power higher than the high command that appointed Tharoor is Coca Cola,which has been thrown out of the state by the Marxist government. Despite the Congress cadres disenchantment,Tharoor may still make it since the CPI(M) cadres seem equally apathetic towards the Left Fronts nominee,P. Ramachandran Nair of the CPI.
The consensus among pollsters and the media is that the Congresss tally of parliamentary seats will be higher than the BJPs. Bookies place the Congresss tally at about 150 and the BJPs at 130. But after three rounds of polling,BJP claims that it is confident it will get more seats than the Congress. The assumption is based on the feedback from Maharashtra,Bihar and Andhra Pradesh,states which were previously expected to boost the UPAs score. What is clear now is that it is a neck-to-neck race between the two national parties.
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