Elections 2019: High drama in TN on the last day of drab campaign


Tamil Nadu

Elections cancelled in the Vellore constituency. IT raids at the premises of M Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi’s place in Tuticorin from where she is contesting. Police fired in the air in Andipatti to drive away AMMK workers who were protesting a raid.

It was an action-packed Tuesday in Tamil Nadu, one that ironically capped what was truly an insipid and underwhelming campaign for elections in the State.

The campaign, to be sure, was no-holds-barred and often times cheap, but it was mostly ennui-inducing as the leaders here did not look like seizing the moment and stamping their own identity, something which both Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa demonstrated regularly

Take the case of Edappadi Palanisamy, the Chief Minister of the State, who was supposed to spearhead the AIADMK campaign. He traveled the length and breadth of the State, spoke in meetings, and even did roadshows. But the man hardly inspired confidence, instead his speeches seemed monotonous both in style and substance. There was no flair or style to make it work.

DMK’s MK Stalin was no better. His campaign speeches are the stuff of mocking memes now as he fluffed his lines, stumbled with facts and in general looked like a man who wasn’t quite sure what he was leading. He mostly looked morose and bereft of ideas despite having been lessoned in Dravidian oratory for decades.

The DMK did not have any second rung leaders to shoulder the burden, while its chosen speakers turned out to be the worst as they often resorted to cheap, scandalous, sexist, misogynistic remarks. The speeches of the lower-rung leaders of the DMK were clearly the low point of this campaign.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP’s Amit Shah also made election speeches. But they did not create any major impact in the Tamil-centric place.

Rahul Gandhi’s campaign was a fiasco as his translator (former TNCC chief Thangkabalu) muffed it up most spectacularly.

Kamal Haasan of Makkal Neethi Maiam did all the hard work, and he was certainly enthusiastic and seemed keen. He got full marks for zest. But his party has no identifiable leader beyond him, and is just taking roots.

AMMK’s TTV Dhinakaran conducted only street side meetings (as opposed to public meetings) as his candidates are contesting only as independents. Due to the technicalities of this, his campaign lost a lot of its zing.

This was one election campaign in TN that had no big overarching theme or agenda. No one particular issue dominated the proceedings. The leaders seemed incapable of creating an idea and running away with it. Most of the campaigning was reduced to hurling abuses and charges against each other.

Stalin was particularly reactive in his approach, and the party was also pushed into the defensive because of the most insensitive and appalling comment made on Lord Krishna by Veeramani, the leader of the DK, a Dravidian ally of the DMK.

Money power was most dominant, and a total of Rs.175 crore has been seized by the EC. This trend does not augur well for the long-term health of the democracy.

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