A disgruntled voter
May 18th, 2009
I’m writing this after a lot of soul searching. On a day when stock trading had to be suspended after it reached the upper circuit and was ballooning out of control, on a day when LTTE chief Prabhakaran, his son and aides were declared as “shot dead while trying to escape”, when TV channels are on overdrive “celebrating” Congress victory and Rahul Gandhi’s leadership, maybe my voice will sound churlish.
Today, I lost a whole lot of my faith in TV reporting. PTI said Prabhakaran was shot dead while trying to escape in a “jeep”. IBN Live said while trying to escape in an “ambulance”. Strangely, after 3 years of relentless war against the LTTE, President Rajapakshe was in Jordan when the final assault was mounted and the area left to capture kept shrinking. Why would he go away? Why did he say, “When I return, it will all be over?” It is too much of a coincidence that there was no progress in the war during the gap of three days between the last day of polling and the day of the results.
The new government doesn’t have to deal with a messy war. It just has to send supplies to the displaced Tamils. Busy with national elections, it could not have done anything to enforce a ceasefire. Did it really want to?
With Prabhakaran out of the picture (he became too ambitious), one can only hope that the Tamils are lucky enough to find an activist dedicated to their cause.
Back to the elections: Tamil Nadu went through large scale rigging and tempering of electronic voting machines – a reason why the machines have been rejected by the US and Japan? What could not be fixed by EVMs was done by officers in the pay of the government. Everyone knows about it but they all feel powerless to interfere. The print media published a sanitized version of the story. TV channels were deafeningly silent on it, choosing rather to say that there was big support to a government that was responsible for power cuts, increase in all food prices, unprecedented violence, bandhs, land grabbing and sand theft and it won because of its populist policies is to mock at the people who are suffering.
And the news channels didn’t raise a whisper about the way P Chidambaram got elected.
At about 12 noon on May 16, the counting got over and the results were announced. AIDMK’s candidate was declared as winner at Sivaganga. For three hours after that, the certificate to that effect was not issued. There was no round by round declaration of results either. There was a flurry of phone calls, PC was taken to a backroom and issued the certificate. After more delay, paramilitary forces amounting to 5000 arrived and the announcement was made: PC had won by the same number of votes that his opponent had won earlier. The Chief Electoral Officer was consulted and he said that his hands were tied since the District Magistrate of the area had used his discretionary powers to “recount” and had made the correction. This man, who is now being described as “squeezed through the election” may soon be our finance/home minister.
Today, PC went on air thanking the CM of this state for his help in his election.
Yes, the Congress won a lot more seats this time and will provide a more stable government. Without having to depend on the Left (there’s international relief that the communists are out of the government) the party can speed up reforms and bring in more FIIs, more MNCs, more food imports and more cash to the party’s coffers. But behind that “stability” are candidates who muscled and moneyed their way in.
There are criminal charges against three Tamil Nadu ministers in the previous cabinet. They will get berths this time too. In addition there will be one more from Madurai who set a newspaper office ablaze over the family feud. It killed three workers inside.