Updated: September 1, 2021 9:32:03 am
There was a time when leaders like C Rajagopalachari, the first Indian Governor General, Periyar E V Ramasamy, and C N Annadurai towered over Tamil Nadu politics. Then came a time when cutouts started to define politics. M Karunanidhi and M G Ramachandran were leaders in their own right, of course. But the influence of a star-driven cinema over politics had changed the relations between politicians and voters to leader and follower. By the time matinee idol, J Jayalalithaa, became the chief minister, the leader demanded complete obeisance from the cadre. Senior ministers and party functionaries took the cue and would even prostrate before the leader in full public view. And the leader began to be omnipresent — on billboards, government advertisements, public transport, offices, freebies.
So it came as a surprise when M K Stalin, Karunanidhi’s heir and CM of Tamil Nadu, told his party legislators last week not to praise him while speaking in the Assembly. A day later, when Cuddalore MLA G Iyyappan started to praise the CM during a debate in the House, Stalin got up and warned that he would take action against the MLA for ignoring his order.
In fact, the first 100 days of Stalin as CM have been a departure from the days when political rivals even refused to acknowledge each other’s presence. Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa were such bitter rivals that he or she would skip the Assembly when the rival was CM. Stalin has made friendly overtures to Opposition leaders and even included Dr Vijayabhaskar, health minister in the Edappadi Palaniswami government, in his Covid management team. He has also instructed officials not to recall kits and freebies that carry the former CM’s picture. Old habits die hard and it remains to be seen if Stalin’s colleagues walk their leader’s talk. However, for now, those who seek to turn every public-funded scheme and programme into an occasion and opportunity for self praise and promotion, can pick up a lesson from Tamil Nadu.
This editorial first appeared in the print edition on September 1, 2021 under the title ‘No praise, please’.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.