Tamil Nadu – Yet another election where people had no choice!

The recent local body election in Tamil Nadu held on 17th and 19th has once again resulted in a huge victory for the ruling party – All India Anna Dravida Munetra Kalakam (AIADMK) led by Jayalalitha. The main opposition party DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kalzhakam) run by the Karunanadhi’s extended family continues to be punished for its role in the corruption scandals, illegal land grabbing and complete failure to improve the conditions of the ordinary people during its rule from 2006 to 2011.

AIADMK won all the 10 corporations and won 89 out of 125 municipality positions. AIADMK also won 284 out of 529 town panchayat. In fact AIADMK got more number of votes and expanded their victory margin in comparison to the last assembly election.

However this victory to the AIADMK does not reflect the real support for them, instead it reflects the anti incumbency mood and the extreme apathy of the people of Tamil Nadu against the erstwhile corrupt regime led by Karunanidhi and DMK.

Corruption is street knowledge

It is not as if the previous Jayalalitha’s rule was above board, there are still many criminal cases of embezzlement against her which are being investigated and the trials are going on. It is the real lack of alternative for the people of Tamil Nadu in particular and India in general that time and again these corrupt politicians and political parties “triumph” by sheer populist politics. This election had all the usual gimmickry to fool the masses, with crores of rupees spent on film star studded glamorous campaigns and false promises, it is need less to say that these promises will never be delivered.

In order to loot the public money otherwise available for the developmental works at local body level, these corrupt party candidates spent huge sums bribing their leadership to get the nominations. There were reports of auctions held for certain positions by the party leadership. It is common knowledge among ordinary masses that the elected candidates are sure to reap huge returns on their election “investments” through the corruption channels.

Left Parties Exposed once Again

Other political parties, who were earlier part of either of the two principal alliances in the state assembly elections, were not able to come to any of their usual seat sharing adjustments this time and stood alone. Those who had earlier aligned with AIADMK including the so-called left parties such as Communist party of India (CPI) and Communist party of India – Marxist (CPI-M), also suffered a major blow in this elections for their class collaboration policies. Earlier they had shamelessly boasted that they had played a key role in bringing capitalist AIADMK to power. Now all alone, they won just 3 Municipality seats.

These left parties have provided no alternative to the capitalist policies of the major parties in Tamil Nadu; instead they remained partners in crime with their capitalist collaborators. They have tried to dismiss the loss and stooped to such low levels by blaming on not being able to reach an agreement with the major capitalist and landlordist parties!

Their last minute attempt to create a so-called third front by aligning with DMDK (Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam) backfired on them during the election. DMDK run by Vijaykanth (Tamil film actor) who holds the current opposition leader position in the state assembly is no less corrupt or capitalist compared to the AIADMK or DMK. Such unprincipled politics of the so called left parties has proved to be a disaster time and again and only act as an obstacle in creating any meaningful alternatives.

State of Tamil Nadu’s Economy

Now that AIADMK holds full control of the Tamil Nadu state, there are fears that they might try to push through the neo-liberal agenda, and take the corruption scandals to newer heights. Already AIADMK chief minister Jayalalitha spoke about slow down of the state’s economy. She claims that growth cannot take place without the investment in manufacturing sector and talking about need to create more SEZ’s (Special Economic Zone) which will in turn intensify the land grabbing from poor peasants and exploitation of the workers in these special exploitation zones.

State GDP growth stands at 7.4% and falling below national average which is worrying not only to the State government but also the industrialist association like the CII. The debt level of the state government in the recent budget stands at 1.18 lakh crores (equivalent to one 2G spectrum scam) which is 20% of state’s GDP, once again proving the bankrupt policies under capitalism.

Tamil Nadu is completely dependent upon debt to run the government which is not good for the financial health of the state. Thus the state is under the tutelage of the World Bank and the corporate business, who are financing the debt and are also deciding on how to run the economy. Their neo-liberal policies are aimed at benefiting the multinational corporations rather than the ordinary people of Tamil Nadu. Rising price of food products, petrol are only adding to the woes of the public. In addition, People are now spending a major share of their income on health-care and education, after government reduced their spending in these sectors and making way for the private players to reap huge profits.

Given the global economic crisis, Tamil Nadu state is unlikely to maintain its growth. Increasing corruption, unemployment, price rise etc., will create intolerable conditions for majority of the people.

A Genuine Socialist Alternative is needed!

Government’s mindless push on privatization has not gone without opposition. There are number of small protests taking place all over Tamil Nadu against privatization etc. Anti – nuclear protest at Koodankulam is spreading across Tamil Nadu. On Oct 24th over 100,000 fishermen took part in the strike along with 42 Villages surrounding Koodamkulam power plant. These protests could mount an enormous challenge to the state and the central governments, which could also trigger more protests in coming months against corruption and the intolerable economic conditions.

Unfortunately there is no force or a genuine mass party that can provide a platform for all these struggles to come together and put up a challenge on behalf of the masses. It’s high time that a genuine mass political alternative representing the interests of the working people and peasants be built to challenge these capitalist and landlordist parties. New Socialist Alternative (CWI – India) in Tamil Nadu will continue to struggle to create such a force.

Pasumpon V N