People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Vol. XXX

No. 18

April 30, 2006


Democracy Vs Authoritarianism


R Govindarajan


THE election campaign in Tamilnadu has picked up momentum since the filing of nomination papers by the contesting candidates. Though many political parties are in the fray, the contest is practically between the two political formations - one is the Democratic Progressive Alliance (DPA), an electoral alliance consisting of DMK, Congress and PMK with the left parties CPI(M) and CPI and the other is the front led by AIADMK with MDMK and Dalit Panthers of India as allies. With the release of the election manifesto by the political parties, hectic campaign is on to reach the people. Apart from placing a critical analysis of anti people policies of the ruling AIADMK government led by Ms Jayalalitha, the CPI(M) has sharply focussed on the question of safeguarding democracy, which has been under severe attack. In addition to this, the assurance given by DMK to provide rice through the public distribution system at the rate of Rs 2 per Kg, 2 acres of land to the landless and the offer of free supply of colour TVs to the poor families has gripped the minds of the people; this has pushed the AIADMK front to a corner and virtually shaken their base.


The alliance partners of the DPA have been moving in a coordinated way in all the 234 constituencies to expose the AIADMK’s misrule that did not leave any section of the people untouched. Most of the local media - print and electronic - with its bias towards the AIADMK that was demonstrated through its doctored analysis in different pre poll surveys had to acknowledge the fact that the DPA is gathering massive response from the people to its campaign which could be seen in their heavy turn out in the campaign meetings.


The DMK president Shri M Karunanidhi said, "I had been in the thick of election campaign for decades, but I have never seen such a massive gathering of the people as I have been witnessing now". Frustration was obvious in the AIADMK camp when they had to dole out assurances beyond the manifesto (e.g - offer of 10 kg rice free to all ration card holders). The issues which are being taken to the people as part of the DPA campaign include non fulfilment of assurances given during the last assembly elections  by AIADMK, the attack on the democratic rights of the people, the brutal manner of dealing with the struggle of state government employees and teachers and various other sections of workers like transport and electricity workers and scrapping the hard won rights and privileges of the people, the order banning fresh recruitment (now Ms Jayalalitha assures creation of 25 lakh jobs) and consistent attempts to silence in the voice of opposition, through foisting cases against the leaders of the opposition, its irrational confrontation with the centre and a plethora of scams in providing tsunami and flood relief from the aid given by the centre.

The DPA and the Left are not taking any chance and do not under estimate the money and muscle power of the ruling AIADMK. The CPI(M) is contesting in the 13 constituencies and the CPI in ten, forging an electoral understanding with DPA. The CPI(M) has fielded three women candidates and one of them who is a dalit has been fielded in a general constituency. (Gudiyatham, Vellore Dist). The CPI(M) has fielded  four dalit candidates altogether.Three of the six sitting MLAs have been re nominated by the party. Prakash Karat, general secretary, CPI(M), R Umanath, Manik Sarkar, K. Varadarajan and Brinda Karat, Polit Bureau members of the party have extensively toured to cover as many constituencies as possible. N. Varadarajan, state secretary, N Sankariah ,T K Rengarajan, A K Padmanaban, U Vasuki, Central Committee members have been given the responsibility to cover the entire state; members of the state secretariat have been put in-charge of the constituencies in which the party is contesting to coordinate the election work. Party cadres, activists and sympathisers have been drawn in squads to do the door to door campaign and organise street corner meetings.


The most unique aspect of our party's election campaign is the involvement of the cultural troupes in the campaign. Puthugai Bhoopalam Kalai Kuzhu and Safdar Hashmi Kalai Kuzhu have been covering the constituencies with their skits and songs which appeal to the masses effectively and draw them to the campaign in a big way. Cultural groups have been formed in all the districts for the campaign.


The CPI(M) state committee has brought out an audio cassette and also a CD with songs, popularising the issues involved in this election and appealing to the electorate to vote for the parties of the DPA. A VCD titled "Should be forget?" also has been prepared to present a graphic picture of the dark episodes of AIADMK rule in the last five years. The Sathur unit of Tamilnadu Progressive Writers' Association brought out a VCD titled ‘Nights will break’ depicting the plight of the families of 10,000 road workers whose services were terminated by the Jayalaalitha government (though an order of reinstatement has been issued on the eve of election) which resulted in the death of 82 of them in the last four years.

The Tamilnadu state committee of the CPI(M) has been monitoring the election work and giving all the party units necessary guidelines. The secretariat of the state committee in its recent meeting held at Dindigul on April 20 has appealed to the people of Tamilnadu to defeat all the attempts of the AIADMK to stay in power and exhorted all the CPI(M) cadres, activists of DPA and activists working in cultural front to work with redoubled vigour to fulfill the aspirations of the people and defeat the AIADMK in the polls and safeguard democracy in the state of Tamilnadu. The electoral scene at the moment points to a decisive and a desired change.