Given below is a well articulated article by Mr Indranil Banerji, on how India is waiting to see who is going to win in Tamilnadu – corruption or democracy.
The fight is not between the coalitions of DMK and AIADMK.
It is between corruption and the will to say 'no' to corruption.
Nowhere in India, has democracy been vitiated as was done in TN.
Karunanidhi has choked the very lifeline of democracy – which is nothing but allowing free and fair expression of people's will.
If he wins, that is a defeat for Democracy.
That will signal that the rot is too deep.
It will also embolden the Congress party to spread this culture to other parts of the country.
The future of Indian democracy will be in peril.
Let the people of Tamilnadu know that future of Indian democracy lies in the way they are going to vote in this election – in the way they muster strength to say 'no' to the money that is offered to them.
They must not fail in this election.
Say No to corruption
(Defence and security analyst based in New Delhi)
THE RESULTS of the Tamil Nadu state elections are destined to have a lasting impact on national politics. Unlike in the past, this poll is not merely a contest between two state-level political stalwarts; this time, it is a contest between two competing issues of vital national concern: corruption versus power politics.
Can electorates be managed?
Can they be seduced by poll gifts and populist promises? Or is corruption an issue? A section of the political elite in India has taken the position that corruption is not a core issue in this country of malnourished millions. The insinuation is that the voting public's concern is not corruption at high levels but mundane issues like the price of cooking gas and rice.
This sadly might actually be the case. The common woman might feel so removed from the portals of power that she could care little about who is robbing the public exchequer as long as she continues to get many of her daily needs at hugely subsidised rates.
This is the issue that is going to be decided in the forthcoming state elections, and most of all in Tamil Nadu, where a coterie is alleged to have robbed the country of countless millions. It is in this state that the corruption issue has come into the sharpest focus.
The state's two principal political protagonists -M.Karunanidhi and J. Jayalalithaa -have been forced to adopt opposing positions as a matter of compulsion rather than ideology. Mr Karunanidhi's Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and its ally, the Congress Party, have tacitly come to represent the view that corruption even at a massive national scale is not an electoral issue.
Ms Jayalalithaa, leader of the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and successor to the legacy of the late MGR, herself embroiled in corruption cases, has perforce gravitated to the opposite side of the spectrum where national theft, bribery and fraud have become the core issues, along with price rise and power cuts. But as one survey reported, this time corruption is the big emotive issue in her campaign.
The usual political equations have been worked out by both alliances, and on paper, at least, both sides are evenly poised. It is clear that the essential contest in Tamil Nadu, as in the past, will be between the two alliances. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), unable to form an alliance with either of the two fronts, is not expected to make any impression at all. Mr (Vaiko) Gopalaswami's Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), having failed at seat adjustment with Ms Jayalalithaa, has decided to boycott the polls, a move that will only help Mr Karunanidhi's party.
Perhaps the biggest boost to Ms Jayalalithaa's alliance will be provided by the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), launched in 2005 by the charismatic Tamil actor Vijayakanth. Ever since its appearance on the Tamil political stage, the DMDK has been stealing huge chunks of state votes. In 2006, the first time it contested state elections, the party grabbed 8.38 per cent of the total votes even though it won only a solitary seat. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, it got 10.1 per cent of the votes, making it the fourth largest political party in terms of votes after the DMK (25.04 per cent), AIADMK (22.8 per cent) and the Congress (13.9 per cent). In the past, Vijayakanth had declined to ally with any other party but after two polls, where his party could not translate its voteshare to seats, he now clearly appreciates the importance of partnerships.
Likewise, the Congress, with its ever-increasing voteshare, has been providing a similar thrust to the DMK-led alliance.
The Congress has steadily been improving its tally because either one of the two dominant state parties has been giving it electoral space. In the last Lok Sabha polls, the DMK-Congress combine alone secured about 39 per cent of the total votes. This is an unbeatable figure and Mr Karunanidhi is hoping it will be repeated.
To drown out criticism of corruption, his party continues to bank on distributing freebies and sharing some of his party's immense good fortune with the electorate. The voting button is, of course, with the Tamil Nadu voter and how s/he thinks will greatly shape policies at the national level in the years to come.
For corruption, unlike what some politicians would like us to believe, does affect growth, development and the equitable distribution of wealth. It shifts the focus away from good governance and developmental issues, it breeds a culture of cynicism and irresponsibility, and worst of all, it degrades institutions vital for proper state functioning.
The recent findings of the noted management consultants, McKinsey & Co, that the southern states are witnessing a decline in economic performance comes as no great surprise. The worst performers between 2005 and 2010 were the states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, which recorded an average real gross domestic product growth rate of just 7.4 per cent each as compared to the national average of 8.7 per cent. Gujarat and even Bihar, two states where there is a political will to focus on development and growth issues, have done better.
The question today is whether Tamil Nadu, a state that has been the epitome of good governance in the past, will once again show the way for the rest of India. To do so, it will first have to forcefully reject the culture of brazen corruption.