What makes the difference?
March 30th, 2009
Deccan Chronicle, ANITA NAIR
A week ago a visiting English journalist wanted to know what I thought about the elections. Did I have a political stand? A political leaning perhaps?
I hmmed and huh-ed. The truth being that despite the elections already looming large in our lives, I had maintained a distance from it. I just didn’t want to know.
But without any warning the elections insinuated itself into my life. And how?
I may not live in Kerala but the elections in Kerala have acquired a personal note. M. B. Rajesh the LDF candidate for the Lok Sabha from the Palakkad constituency is a vibrant youth leader. Rajesh has authored three books veering dangerously close to the polemic and is currently the DYFI state president. He now lives and works in Palakkad but grew up in and around my village in Kerala which for its staunch leftist leanings had been dubbed Moscow in the fifties.
Strangely enough my acquaintance with Rajesh began with an eco-friendly laterite block I had used to build my little cottage with. He dropped by to check on its efficacy as not many building contractors would work with it.
The next morning the owner of the welding company I was using filled me on Rajesh’s political career. The young man who was an ardent DYFI supporter himself spoke of him with much admiration and affection. ‘He is one of us and that fills us with a sense of hope’, etc.
So I was pleased to hear that Rajesh could perhaps be the next MP from Palakkad. If I had a vote in Palakkad, I know that I wouldn’t hesitate to cast it for someone like M.B. Rajesh.
And then at the other end of the state is Shashi Tharoor, the Congress candidate from the Thiruvananthapuram constituency. And Shashi Tharoor, fellow writer, is also someone I am acquainted with personally. But Tharoor’s decision has been received with only skepticism. The media in Kerala and elsewhere have been stripping Tharoor of everything the man has come to represent from his time as a diplomat. All those who had cheered him on when he was a candidate for the UN secretary generalship now question his eligibility for the Lok Sabha.
His inability to wax eloquent in Malayalam is perhaps seen as the hallmark of his inadequacy. What does he know of Thiruvanthapuram or its people is the refrain?
Essence: Tharoor apart from being dismissed as an ‘outsider’ is seen as a ploy and gimmick to boost the image of Congress in Kerala. It saddens me no end to see a man of Tharoor’s stature being ridiculed and made a mockery of.
He deserves better.
I wonder how the populace of Kerala would react to both candidates. Fortunately they are not contesting for the same seat. For if one is the man from within who understands the need of the state and hence the nation, the other could bring the wealth of experience into foreign affairs. The tragedy being that they are both from different parties and hence will never work together. But as Rajesh himself told me ‘in politics 1 + 1 isn’t ever two’.
In the end, I wonder who will prevail? What will make the difference — the party or the candidate?
Anita Nair, author of the novels The Better Man, Ladies Coupe and Mistress, is neither a political analyst nor strategist. Her new book is Good Night and God Bless. She can be reached at www.anitanair.net