The number of Kumaraswamys in Tamil Nadu may have just gone up. In the home state of Lord Murugan, Kumaraswamy, one of the god’s many names, is dear to Tamils. However, this possible spurt in the Kumaraswamy population owes to the persuasive skills of an AIADMK corporator. A. Chandran, a councillor from Coimbatore, hit upon the idea that children born on Monday, the day Justice C.R. Kumaraswamy gave a clean chit to AIADMK supremo J. Jayalalithaa in the wealth case, could be named after the judge. The girls, of course, would be named Amma Kumaraswamy. He has been stalking city hospital wards persuading parents of newborns.
Chandran has broken new ground here. Grateful AIADMK leaders and cadres were beside themselves when Amma emerged free of taint — “tested like pure gold” — after an eight-month ordeal, in which she was convicted of acquiring assets disproportionate to her income, sentenced to four years in prison, and had to resign as chief minister. State Minister for Prisons S.P. Velumani and the mayor of the export hub of Tirupur tonsured their heads in gratitude. Milk was offered in temples and special prayers conducted. But they lacked the imagination to connect the judge, whose verdict had triggered the celebrations, to new birth. What a way to remember the beloved leader’s rebirth!
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Loyalty defines politics in Tamil Nadu. When the rationalist Periyar challenged the gods, politicians took their place. Periyar follower and DMK leader M. Karunanidhi found himself sculpted in stone when he was CM. Other gods on earth followed with their retinues. Devotees take vows and make offerings for the well-being of leaders and even offer their lives. At least 200 people reportedly committed suicide when Jayalalithaa was convicted last September. Call it the irrationality of rationalist politics.