End of ‘inclusiveness’ in TN politics?

When the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) sleuths raided 21 premises, including the residence of AIADMK leader and former Tamil Nadu Transport Minister M.R. Vijayabhaskar on July 22, it sent out a clear message — the politics of vendetta which is a common phenomenon in Dravidian politics of the state is back with a bang.

AIADMK leaders and former Chief Ministers O. Pannerselvam and K. Palaniswami, stated that the raids on Vijayabhaskar were acts of vendetta and the party would challenge them in a court of law. Both the leaders said that the AIADMK would not be cowed down by the raids.

When M.K. Stalin assumed office as Chief Minister on May 7, it marked the DMK’s return to power in the state after 10 years. Stalin stated that his government would practise the politics of inclusiveness. In a 13-member committee constituted by him to fight Covid-19, the Chief Minister had included C. Vijayabhaskar of the AIADMK, the former Health Minister of Tamil Nadu.

Political analysts and observers saw this as a good sign in Dravidian politics — that Stalin was for a change in outlook and this could reflect in governance as well.

The vigilance raids carried out at the home of Vijayabhaskar on Thursday has shattered the tall claims of the DMK that it was practising the politics of inclusiveness.

On March 25, 1989, the then opposition leader of Tamil Nadu Assembly and AIADMK leader J. Jayalalithaa was assaulted in the House after the Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi himself began calling her names. A fuming Jayalalithaa came out of the assembly and vowed that she would return to the House as Chief Minister.

Twelve years later, it was the turn of Jayalalithaa to get her revenge. In the wee hours of June 30, 2001, the Tamil Nadu police barged into Karunanidhi’s home, he was no longer Chief Minister, and arrested him. The visuals on various television channels showed the then 78-year-old leader being pushed, shoved, and beaten before being taken to the police station. Union Minister Murasoli Maran who tried to resist the arrest was also arrested. Another Union minister, T.R. Baalu, and hundreds of DMK cadres, including Stalin, were arrested. This was politics of vengeance at its height and Jayalalithaa practised it to the full.

S. Sivasankaran, a political commentator, said: “Those who were following Tamil Nadu politics closely were glad that Stalin had started off on a good note of inclusive politics and his including, C. Vijayabhaskar, minister in AIADMK government as a member of the 13-member committee to combat Covid was viewed by many as a good beginning.

“However, the DVAC raids on M.R. Vijayabhaskar clearly nullifies the good things that the Chief Minister had done after coming to power. It is now clear that the politics of combativeness would be on view in the days to come.”