Archive for April, 2011
An immediate threat to the UPA government from the DMK may have been averted by keeping out Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu Ammal from the second charge-sheet in the 2G spectrum case.
But the big question is can 86-year-old Karunanidhi bear to see his dear daughter Kanimozhi being sent to Tihar jail when she appears before the special CBI judge on May 6.
Kanimozhi was named as a co-conspirator along with ex-Telecom Minister A Raja for seeking bribe money to be paid the first DMK family-owned TV channel, Kalaignar TV.
Even as the Congress is cocksure that the DMK cannot pose any threat to the UPA coalition in the wake of Kanimozhi being made an accused in the 2G case, Karunanidhi is said to be very upset that the Centre has put his daughter in the dock.
In fact, Karunanidhi had a telling statement issued by the DMK late Monday. It said: “The issue of questioning of Kanimozhi and Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu had been made a publicity exercise of gargantuan proportions…. Even after it had been proved in a transparent manner that the Rs 200 crore loan given by a firm (DB Reality to Kalaingar TV) was returned with interest and that there was nothing hanky panky and no conspiracy, Dayalu and Kanimozhi were questioned (by CBI).”
True, tension had eased in the DMK after the CBI kept out Dayalu Ammal, who holds 60 per cent share in Kalaignar TV, which allegedly got Rs 200 crore from the 2G scam beneficiaries.
Also, Dayalu’s son, Union minister M K Alagiri, who was very upset by reports that his mother would be named as an accused, quietened down. Earlier, he had wondered loudly to his aides, “why should I continue if mother is made an accused in the 2G case.”
But Karunanidhi surprised his party leaders by calling an emergency meeting of his party’s executive on Wednesday after he learnt that Kanimozhi was in deep trouble though his wife Dayalu was out of it for now.
Karunanidhi is worried that the special CBI judge who has denied bail to other scam accused could do the same to his daughter when she appears before the special court on May 6. In case, she is unable to get an easy bail, tension in the party might re-surface. Proceedings in the Delhi High Court, where appeal for bail of other 2G accused are coming up, would be keenly watched.
The Congress’ calculation is that the DMK cannot do anything till May 13 when the results of the Tamil Nadu assembly polls are declared. The DMK had contested only 119 seats leaving the rest to its alliance partners, the largest chunk of 63 to the Congress. Therefore, the DMK may need the Congress’ help to form the next government. If it loses power, it is all the more the DMK needs a foothold in power in Delhi.
But, will the DMK being the third largest constitutent of UPA after the Congress and Trinamool Congress and having 18 MP in the Lok Sabha, just wait and watch Kanimozhi being sent to jail?
Karunanidhi is known to already suffer from guilt. He didn’t do much for Kanimozhi. In fact, for many years, he had not acknowledged his marriage with her mother, Rajathi Ammal.
With his first wife Dayalu in a safe position, Rajathi is bound to mount pressure on Karunanidhi to save their daughter from the law. It’s then the trouble for the UPA could really begin.
With bundles of money being discovered all over Tamil Nadu, money and not political parties have fought the elections. So much the big question is who will win?
Money or the Election Commission, which is doing a commendable job to check the influence of financial power of those who fear they will lose the elections this time.
Their model of wooing voters had worked perfectly well in the Lok Sabha polls of 2009, and previously in the assembly polls of 2006.
Till date, the Election Commission seized Rs 34 crore of “unaccounted money” in the run up to the elections.
So much so, that in Tamil Nadu, the main opposition party today seems to be the Election Commission (EC), wrote Gnani, a leading Tamil writer and columnist.
He noted that Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi went to the extent of appealing to the Centre to rethink the powers conferred on the EC and restructure it. His son and deputy chief minister M.K. Stalin, alliance partners S. Ramadoss of the Pattali Makkal Katchi, Thirumavalavan of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi and, most importantly, Union home minister P. Chidambaram of main ally Congress have all been critical of the EC during the campaign.
Gnani said the now notorious Thirumangalam model is sought to be replicated in the assembly elections. During the Thirumangalam bypoll in 2009, M.K. Alagiri, another son of the chief minister, correctly predicted the exact margin by which his party would win. It was an open secret that voters in Thirumangalam were flooded with money distributed along with the morning milk and the daily newspaper.
Those who took the money pledged their vote by placing their hand on their head, that of a child’s head, or over a pot of buttermilk considered divine by rural people. Since then, every election in Tamil Nadu has been dominated by the cash-for-votes culture.
This election is a do-or-die contest. For Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) patriarch Karunanidhi, who will be 90 in two years and is confined to a wheelchair, this is a fight to protect his family and party interests. The succession issue between sons Stalin and Alagiri has to be resolved one way or the other. The second-generation (2G) spectrum case has wife Dayalu and daughter Kanimozhi vying for a mention in the chargesheet.
While failure will spell disaster, with the Congress dropping him and mending fences with rival All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), success could come with strings attached as he may be forced to share power with his allies.
Failure will mean the disintegration of the monopoly of the family in various spheres of public life, business and media. Success will trigger intense consolidation and liquidation of whatever dissent or opposition that exists.
Jayalalithaa Jayaram and her AIADMK become active only at the time of elections. If the party allows the DMK to come back to power, it will be in the lurch. It has managed to keep afloat as Tamil Nadu voters have been alternately voting for the DMK and the AIADMK in all elections since 1991.
Meanwhile, film star Vijayakanth and his Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) have only got a 10% vote share thus far to show for the effort expended in the past five years. The party’s alliance with the AIADMK may even erode part of that, since all its votes came from people unhappy with both the main formations. Success on the other hand would give it a fresh lease of life.
This election has also seen the death of oratory, which had dominated Tamil Nadu politics for nearly 70 years. Orators such as C.N. Annadurai changed the game of political campaigning for ever in the 1940s. This was nourished and perpetuated by the likes of Karunanidhi and Vaiko (of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam).
The emergence of television has meant the death of fiery speech-making. Orators have been replaced by film comedians and actresses. Comedian Vadivelu is on a DMK-sponsored road show to settle scores with neighbourhood rival Vijayakanth.
Money power in another form also dominates the elections. The freebie culture ushered in by a desperate DMK in 2006 has been appropriated by the AIADMK too. In a burst of competitive populism, both have promised a range of consumer goods.
The DMK’s main campaign platform is development, while the AIADMK is calling for an end to Karunanidhi’s family rule. The 2G scam has so rattled the ruling DMK that it has decided not to depend on its traditional base of urban voters. It has shifted all its major leaders, including Karunanidhi and Stalin, to rural seats. The AIADMK is worried that the rural voter may abandon it in favour of freebies offered by the DMK and, hence, it has unleashed a counter promise of more freebies to retain the rural voter.
This election will be a watershed for politics in Tamil Nadu. More political spaces will become vacant with the possibility of new formations and alliances emerging after the elections.
The fight between the arch-rivals is too close for any prediction. The margins will be narrow in most seats. But the trend will be uniform and the possibility of a hung assembly is remote.
Having watched elections since 1971, this is the first one I have seen which is run in a business-like manner, thanks to the EC’s stern measures. The sobriety thrust upon voters by the EC has, to some extent, been relieved only by their road shows.
Actually, the contest is not just among parties—money is also fighting the elections. Irrespective of the parties in the fray, for the discerning voter and citizen, who wins—money or the EC—is what ultimately matters.
Just as Team India lifted the World Cup on Satursday night, a SMS went out to mostly journalists saying: “Poonam Pandey’d phone switched off…” Another said, “do you have her address?”
As the 19-year-old, who participated in last year’s Gladrags’ model hunt contest and offered to go nude for the cricket team just before the semifinal against Pakistan in Mohali, went silent, PR and media analysts began to draw a lesson from her publicity stunt.
”I am in love with Poonam Pandey. She’s just demonstrated how opportunistic investment can catapult a brand to become top of mind with one masterstroke,” wrote Sai Nagesh, Executive Vice-President and Executive Business Officer, Dentsu Media, in serious Hindu Businessline.
Not only has she captured the imagination of millions of men across the world, she has also elevated the World Cup finals to an unparalleled edge-of-the-seat ‘drool event’!
Much like Sachin’s straight drives, it’s all about the timing. In a world of integrated and interconnected media, proof of Poonam’s genius comes in the form of this Facebook message from a newfound fan, while all of India is saying, ‘I support India’ - ‘I support Poonam Pandey’, Nagesh wrote.
Opportunistic investment in media has been around for a while in the US, and is being practised in India more recently with a lot of fanfare during this cricket World Cup.
There are advertisers who are only seen during the Super Bowl in the US, and they are willing to spend a couple of million dollars on that alone, while being absent for the rest of the year.
Such properties are great ways to spike GRPs (gross rating points). We’re seeing this World Cup being leveraged with opportunistic investments, and my belief is that such investments are here to stay.
For challenger brands that cannot afford to spend a lot of money to buy the bulk deal packages to be visible through the World Cup, these last-minute spot opportunities on the semi-finals and final are a great way to get a spike on visibility.
Then there are these whole host of long-standing and established brands for which awareness is not an issue, and that have the advantage of being a part of the subliminal consciousness because of their legacy. These brands need not be visible through high-decibel advertising across the year, but would want to gently nudge their consumers from time to time to say that they’re around.
What better opportunity than a high-decibel platform like an Indo-Pak semi-final or a World Cup final featuring India?
The television media universe today is one where bulk ratings have become scarce on even the most watched entertainment channels.
Indian cricket is unarguably most exciting for advertisers targeting the male viewer, and has now been elevated to new high with Ms Poonam Pandey declaring her ‘bare’ intentions in going a few steps further than she did for her calendar shoot. Those visuals won’t be on TV in any case, but then, does imagination need visuals? (This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 3, 2011) http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/todays-paper/tp-others/tp-variety/article1594982.ece?css=print
In the meantime, Pandey posted on her Twitter page Monday: “Thanx a Lot All for ur Support!! I am Still on with My Commitments Stay TUNED.” Earlier, she issued a statement saying she would go ahead with her promise only if the BCCI permits.