Electioneering reaches fever pitch said the newspaper and The Man from Madras Musings could not help reflecting that it was a low-grade fever if at all it was that. If the daily felt electioneering was feverish, then it must be run by a hypochondriac. In all his years of observing polls, MMM has never seen a duller ­election than this. Even the Methuselah of TN politics has said it.
And for this lackadaisical approach to what ought to have by right been full of drama, thunder and lightning, MMM blames the Election Commission. By cracking down on our native culture and imposing something alien called discipline, the EC has almost become a colonial power. In fact it ought to change its name from EC to EIC to be in line with the other colonial power that ruled long over us.
Where for instance are the posters? Don’t these EC people know that Chennai derives its colours from posters? And much of its humour as well? What about large digital banners welcoming our leaders as they hop, skip and jump, (or stagger, or inch forward or wheel about depending on who it is) from meeting to meeting? MMM is of the view that most of the malaise of low-key electioneering has been caused by the absence of the digital banner. Without seeing this, and most of our leadership expects this en route to anywhere and everywhere with the exception of the privy, our political chiefs are a depressed lot. Unless they read praises of themselves how can they be expected to exude confidence?
Just imagine you are a democratic leader accustomed to people singing your praises via digital banners at all events, venues and functions. You expect it as a matter of right. You in fact peer through your glasses as you are whizzed along in your high security vehicle at all the banners and make note of who has praised you and who has not. And you plan rewards and retribution on that basis. What happens if you suddenly find no banners? You become confused. You think your flock is deserting you. You wonder if there is a dip in your popularity. And then when you open your mouth to campaign you lose your grip. You babble. You depart for the next venue hoping to see banners. There again… In short, you come home feeling all is lost.
And what is an election meeting without song and dance? MMM learns that sound pollution rules too come into effect when the EC is in charge. So no high decibel speakers. No songs parodying the opposition and praising the leader. And, above all, no meetings after 10 pm. Have you ever heard of such a thing? Don’t the EC people know that it is only at around midnight that the speakers on the dais complete recognising everyone else and welcoming them before coming to the burden of their speech? With such restrictions in place how can political invective flow? Just as our orators warm up to their task along comes the EC telling them to be sure to brush their teeth, change into loose-fitting clothes, embrace teddy, say their prayers and go to bed. This is just not working.
What about liquid refreshments? There are two that MMM is referring to. The first is cash. Unless this flows freely, where will the cheering multitudes get their incentives to cheer? And can you call this a democracy when you are not allowed to carry cash in your own vehicles? Just imagine all the hard work that has gone into collecting the moolah. You hoard for years, evading the tax authorities. You spend hours cajoling industrialists to part with money for electoral expenses. You worry several nights over how to conclude land deals in cash so that money can be made available. And then, just as you sit back and relax and go for a soothing drive with your stash, along comes the EC and takes it all.
As for the other liquid, and here MMM is not referring to tea, it appears doomed anyway. Everyone wants to do away with it. All MMM can say is if this lifeblood of electioneering is abolished we cannot be answerable for the consequences. People will vote overwhelmingly in favour of NOTA – Nothing Other Than Alcohol.