<Amma (left) with Chinnamma
BEING RULED FROM A JAIL AWAITS THE INDIAN STATE OF TAMIL NADU.
The ‘inevitability of the Greek tragedy’ has been much written about.
The fatalism of Indian philosophy alone, perhaps, comes anywhere near it. The recent events in Tamil Nadu were so extremely predictable that, despite the media hype and efforts to create suspense they followed the expected comic path.
The end of a Greek tragedy is known right at the beginning. The Oracle of Delphi warns of it and the attempts of characters involved to avoid the promised tragic end only more inescapably drive them towards it.
A look at Tamil cinema and theatre shows that in the Tamil ethos exaggeration and over-action are the basis of their comedy. Natyashastra, the ancient Indian treatise, holds that humour is born out of pathos. So the predictable Tamil tragedy ends in a pathetic situation.
A swashbuckling, loud, actor engineers a split in the Dravidian party based primarily on atheism and anti-Brahminism and comes to power. The downtrodden, oppressed people make him a demi-God, killed themselves when he died and made his closest associate, a temple-trotting Brahmin, his successor to rule the State. Her qualification: she danced around trees with him. And both believe in politics of freebies and sops.
She too comes to power on the plank of eradicating corruption. Ironically she and her aide amass astounding wealth. Predictably they face cases for disproportionate, unexplained, assets. Stepping down temporarily she nominates the meekest, humblest feet-touching follower as successor, only because he would have no ambitions and would obey her commands.
All this in a ‘democratic’ country where dynasty rules and an overbearing Chief Minister installs his unlettered wife, progeny or the meekest follower on the throne to just it hold for him.
‘Amma’ (mother) J. Jayalalithaa repeats the drama twice. Then has a disease, as inexplicable as her riches. It is kept secret. No questions answered. Her relations and the dummy Chief Minister are barred by the aide from seeing her at the hospital . Whatever she (the aide) says is accepted by the sheepish followers as the leader’s own command.
And when she dies, the aide, who was more of her housekeeper, declares herself the successor, both for the CM’s post and her property. The dummy CM tries to stay on and is thrown out. Then comes a predictable twist in the story. A cassette shop owner and videographer when she joined Amma, the aide V.K Sasikala, is jailed for disproportionate assets as she turned a billionaire and owner of more than 100 companies. She, in turn, appoints her own puppet as the CM declaring Amma’s puppet a ‘traitor’.
The puppet CM wants her shifted to a Chennai jail from Bangalore’s Parappana Agrahara jail. If he succeeds, which he might as the Centre needs his party’s support in the coming Presidential poll, the Tamil Nadu government may function from a jail. Nothing prevents the TN government from putting her in a jail room with five-star facilities. The entire cabinet can meet her in the jail. She will take all decisions and he would sign wherever he is asked to.
How could a people known to be highly intelligent and capable stand the sight of ministers and legislators prostrating before a ‘leader’ or see a Chief Minister treated like a menial and stopped from even seeing the dying leader? Could they not see that the freebies and sops to voters are at tax-payers’ cost? Or that the bitter and blatant power struggle is based not on ideology, policies or capability but caste, personal loyalty and gimmicks?
Can politics get dirtier? The CM being ‘primes inter pares’ (first among equals) is an alien concept. We proudly choose the Indian concept of feet-touching. A democratic choice.
No wonder the Tamil Nadu police gave her a free hand for more than 12 hours after the Supreme Court ordered her to surrender ‘forthwith.’ With her dummy sure to be the next CM, the police could not take risks.
In Indian politics Caste, Coercion and Cash are three major factors. We are a democracy.