Is alliance politics bad in elections?

Vivanesh Parthiban

Chennai, Feb 2: Are emerging parties which form alliance with the major parties at the verge of election cheating their followers and people? With the ongoing cry and anger among netizens on the alliance between AIADMK (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) and PMK (Paatali Makkal Kathchi), do these alliances serve the greater cause of the society or just the parties that forged alliance?

DMK Spokesperson Tamilan Prasanna

DMK Spokesperson Tamilan Prasanna said,” alliance politics as such is not bad but it must have an agenda for the people”. He also added that DMK-Congress is going to form an alliance for the 6th time in a Lok Sabha election and our alliance is based on Secular politics against the Modi Government. He said, “If PMK-AIADMK alliance has an agenda then it must be money”.

CPI(M) Spokesperson R.Sindhan

CPI (M) spokesperson R.Sindhan said,” Alliance politics has been vastly misused by parties in recent times who consider coalitions as an option to retain votes in election”. He also added that best example of coalition politics is the alliance between INC and CPI (M) in UPA-2(2009-14) when CPI (M) pushed many social security schemes like MNREGA using the alliance.

The other emerging parties like Naam Tamilar katchi(NTK) run by Seeman and MNM (Makkal Nedhi Mayyam) lead by Kamal Hassan are going to contest in all 40 seats in upcoming elections.

NTK spokesperson Karthikeya

Idumbavanam Karthikeyan, Naam Tamilar katchi(NTK) spokesperson said,” people don’t understand the history of a party, If they would have a small knowledge about PMK which has been switching sides over years then it would not be a big shock to them.” He also added that Anbumani Ramdoss (MP from Dharmapuri and Youth wing president of PMK) had created a big trust among the youth of Tamil Nadu and broke it by aligning with the same AIADMK government even though he abused in his rallies. He said,” an emerging party has a lot of dilemma whether it can win a seat in election or not but it must have some principle or ideology which it should uphold even when it forms an alliance which is illusive in PMK-AIADMK alliance.”

MNM spokesperson Murali

Murali Abbas, spokesperson of Makkal Nedhi Mayyam(MNM) said,” alliance politics should not come out of opportunism like the PMK-AIADMK alliance”. He also added that Anbumani Ramadoss has cheated all his followers and he was the one who lodged complaints to Governor on the Gutka scam by the AIADMK”. He said,” If a party promises change but chooses the same ruling party we don’t find any principle at work other than money in this alliance politics”.

PMK youth wing leader Ramadoss in his press release said he is not embarrassed about justifying PMK’s alliance with AIADMK and BJP. He also added People have accepted this alliance and in the last four elections PMK could not win only because of bad alliances and that will not happen with this alliance.

Ilaiya Thalaimurai, a political activist group’s leader Shankar said,” In India as we follow the first past post system whoever corner majority seats win the election wins.” He also said,” alliance politics is needed in this system because we don’t follow a representative electorate where all communities are represented, this may not be true for a single majority party in the first past post system”. He said,” Indian democracy even allows post poll alliances which is even worse than an alliance that happens before the election”. He also said,” We cannot accuse PMK alone for this opportunistic politics because last time when they contested alone it could not win any seat”. He also said,” this alliance is not a big shock to me because we have even seen DMK-BJP alliance in 2001”. He said,” Emerging parties in Tamil Nadu has a huge barrier because of this Dravidian parties which has a huge vote base as the emerging party lose confidence over time they ally with any one of this party to sustain in politics.” He also added that at least an alliance must serve a section of society in the state but some alliances are completely driven by money which dents the trust the people have in the party.

Two Dravidian parties have about 1 crore party members alone which make the two parties equally formidable in elections. If a third front has to emerge in Tamil Nadu it needs a great leader or an ideology that can attract people to its side. In 2016 election when People welfare front was formed as an alternative to the two Dravidian parties they could not make an impact on the election result which affected the morale of the emerging parties in Tamil Nadu. Alliance among the emerging parties was not a solution to break the dominance of the Dravidian Parties. Thus many emerging parties like the VCK (Viduthali Chiruthaigal Katchi) and PMK stands too loose to sustain their parties without alliance.

Haryana’s folk artists and performers dissatisfied with Government

By: Ashmita Mukherjee

Chennai, February 22: At a folk festival in DakshinaChitra museum, artists and performers expressed their discontent with the government for not effectively aiding them to earn a livelihood and gain access to education.

DakshinaChitra is a living-history museum located 25 kilometres to the south of Chennai. The Navyug Haryana Art and Culture Centre organized the Navyug Haryana Sanskriti group to perform at the museum for a nine-day festival which commenced on February 16. The festival also includes an exhibition of wood craftsmanship of Mahavir Prashad Bondwal and his son, Chander Kant Bondwal from Bahadurgarh, Haryana.

Navyug Haryana Sanskriti group performers from Haryana

Every February, DakshinaChitra museum hosts a national festival for over a week informed Sahana Rao, program officer.

“Last year the focus was on the culture of Goa and next year we plan to bring in artists from Nagaland. The museum is a project of Madras Craft Foundation, a non-profit organization. We get funds to pay every artist a daily fee of Rs.800.”

On the contrary, Rahul Bagdi the head of the folk music and dance group said,

“All our expenses are paid for by the Ministry of Culture which includes food, travel, daily allowance and accommodation cost.” Bagdi informed that the Navyug Haryana Sanskriti group was created by him six years ago, “to save folk music and culture. We wish government did better to conserve Haryana’s folk culture. The Ministry of Culture spends more money for classical musicians and dancers by booking them flight tickets and paying them a better daily allowance. We are made to travel in train by sleeper class and our allowance is much lower.”

Mahavir Prashad Bondwal, a wood carving artist who was honoured by the government with one national award in 2004 followed by an award by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) the same year said that he used to work on ivory carving until the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 1991 banned the trade of ivory. Since then he has been working on carvings made of sandal wood, kadam wood and ebony wood with his family. He said,

Award winning wood carving artists, Mahavir Prashad Bondwal and his son, Chander Kant Bondwal from Haryana

“But with the new government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we are forced to pay 12 percent Goods and Service (GST) Tax on import of wood. The taxation is based on sale and it does not take into consideration the money we spend on labour and the hours of work.”

Sandeep Singh, 24 a folk dancer who has been performing since the age of 16, finds himself unhappy with the lack of investment by the government on impoverished youth in Haryana. He said,

“I had been fortunate enough to complete my graduation (Government College of Education in Bhiwani, Haryana) but the others have not been so lucky. Several young men from poor families join the folk troupe because they lack technical skills and have no education. They learn folk dance or song to earn a livelihood. The older generation of singers cannot get other jobs because they are not able-bodied for manual work and lack education for any work that requires any qualification.”

Rahul Bagdi added,

“The Lok Kalakar Union sent an application to the government of Haryana with a list of demands asking for better artists’ pay, access to education through scholarships and introduction of folk music and dance in the academic curriculum of government schools and colleges. We observed a peaceful protest this year as we danced and sang through the streets of Haryana.”

Destigmatisation: Mentally ill patients to receive formal documentation

by Akshara Srivastava, Bharat Sharma

Chennai, Feb 22: The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) in Kilpauk is slowly inducting its patients into the Voters List before the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. With assistance from Disability Rights Alliance (DRA), they have enrolled more than 129 people as of now, including 62 men and 67 women.

Most government schemes and services can only be availed with a valid proof of identity. In lieu of this, the Institute intends to extend access to formal documentation to people with mental illnesses. This will include getting them Aadhar cards.

This is the Institute’s first initiative that involves patient participation. “This is the most progressive step we’ve ever taken… our society has never fully accepted mentally ill people as our own”, said Poorna Chandrika, Director of the institute.

Most of their patients were destitute or abandoned by their families. Owing to this, there are no documents proving their citizenship.

After screening their 900 patients, they figured out that 150-160 of them are mentally equipped to make a rational decision while casting their vote. According to D. Sumethi, Head of Voters Department and Social Welfare Officer at IMH, the voter patients are those who have been in recovery for a long time and continue to show signs of improvement.

“Only the improved patients will vote this time… We have many patients who have shown significant improvement over years. We’re starting with them”, she said.

129 patients have been registered with the Election Commission as of now. | The Hindu

Equipping patients with the right to vote is not enough. Awareness about politics is intrinsic to exercising one’s right responsibly. “We’re teaching them our political scenario and the history of Indian politics to help them choose their leaders wisely”, said D. Sumethi. 

Out of the 129 people who have been enrolled until now, six are patients with a history of crime. According to her, their improvement warrants inclusion in the list.

Besides this, all patients have access to television and regularly watch the news. “Someone will read the newspaper to them in the recreational hall so they can understand clearly”, added D. Sumethi.

Within the ambit of Representation of People Act, a person with an ‘unsound mind’ can be disqualified from registering and voting.

The Institute, with help from DRA intends to multiply the number of enrolled patients by three times next year.

The institute is curating a list of people below 60 who will be slowly registered over the next year. | Bharat Sharma

Providing a family like environment remains IHM’s priority. “We have always and continue to treat them as normal people who need extra care and medical attention”, said P. Chandrika. Asserting that voting is every citizen’s birth right she said that “this is why we’re doing this for them”.

To Be or Not to Be – AIADMK supporters dwindle between the alliance and their loyalty

-Aishwaryaa. R

“My vote is for the AIADMK till the end, no matter who runs it!” said Pushpavalli, the Assistant Head of the Women’s Organisation of the AIADMK party until late 1980s.

With the alliance of BJP (Bharathiya Janata Party)and PMK (Pattali Makkal Katchi) with the AIADMK party, the people of Saidapet and Kotturpuram, one of the main areas for the party expressed mixed opinions about voting.

Pushpavalli, showing her tattoo of the AIADMK’s two leaves on her right hand, said that the governance is not as efficient or strong after the former Chief Minister and AIADMK Head, Amma i.e J.Jayalalitha’s demise. She lives in Kavangarai, a thin strip of settlements across the Adyar river canal in Saidapet.

“She was the last dynamic leader. She never let any national party come in the way of Dravidian principles. Now it’s all dependant on other parties to uphold their stand in the [Legislative] Assembly,” she said. Yet Pushpavalli remains loyal only to the AIADMK. “It’s for M.G.R and Amma. Not for anybody else,” she said.

N. Sathya Moorthy, a senior political analyst said “In most elections over the past 25 years, PMK has registered a decisive five per cent vote-share. However PMK’s presence is confined mostly to only the northern and parts of the Western districts, where it could be around a higher 8 per cent in those parts. In the 2016 assembly poll, the victorious AIADMK’s vote-share was just one per cent more than that of the DMK combine, divided 41-40 per cent across the state. That makes every additional vote important for both Dravidian majors now.”

M.Kumar, an auto driver in Royapettah says “Things are about to change in a big way. Everyday there is a news saying there is some compensation for the farmers, the fishermen, the elderly and the disabled. But none of these were to be heard in the past two years. The Budget release listed many funds allocated for the economically weaker section, but none is either properly comprehendible or approachable. The corporation elections are held. Their budget is also not released. Now we have a national party and a casteist party as a part of the alliance. At least the DMK shows clear principles. I have decided to change sides this time, just to drive on better roads.”

Sathya Moorthy said that AIADMK cannot expect a clear victory with the PMK’s Vanniyar community support since it also depends on the consolidation of anti-BJP minority votes in favour of the rival alliance, possible ‘backlash’ of ‘soft Hindutva’ and Dhinakaran’s ability to split AIADMK votes, among others.

Although the major parties of Tamil Nadu have always been the AIADMK and the DMK, this election also sees new factors such as T.T.V. Dhinakaran’s AMMK (Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam) and Captain Vijaykanth’s DMDK (Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam).

Vasanthi, a flower seller in Teynampet says “I do not understand why [AI]ADMK would join with BJP and PMK? Its better I vote for TTV [Dhinakaran] or Captain [Vijaykanth] this time. I know both of them are not the best suited candidates. But at least they are not BJP.”

AIADMK’s alliance, even it has gained a few extra hands in areas like Nagarcoil, Kanniyakumari and Madurai, it still has disappointed a few supporters of its own party. Yet, the loyalty of many others seem to keep their position stable.

“If agriculture fails, the country fails”; the 2019 Budget fails to address the people’s problems

The “election Budget” is more about spectacles than solving problems.

Piyush Goyal, the acting Finance Minister, on the day of the Budget speech. |BW Businessworld

CHENNAI: Acting Finance Minister Piyush Goyal presented the interim Budget on February 1, 2019. Many, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, termed it as an election Budget. However, the public does not seem too enthusiastic about it.


The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi(PM KISAN) was one of the major announcements.Under this scheme,farmers with landholdings upto two hectares will receive Rs 6,000 annually as income support.

Dr. N Parasuraman, Principal Scientist at the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation(MSSRF), says, “PM KISAN is insufficient.Rs 6,000 won’t do much for the farmers.Still, the farmers will get something. I don’t want to express any opinion about the election aspect, but any relief measure for the farmers is welcome.”

He stresses the need for linking agriculture with job security. “This Government promised a lot. It said it will double farmers’ income by 2022. For that,agriculture needs a business model. Everybody thinks that agriculture is only about food production, but it also includes organic farming,food processing,seed and fertilizer production. These are potential sources for job creation. Agriculture must give job security to the people. If it is made entrepreneurial, young people will also get involved. We have Right to Information, Right to Education, and we must also have Right to Job Security. India has one of the highest number of young people in the world.Agriculture should provide them employment.Ours is a country where,if agriculture fails, the country fails.”

Dr. Parasuraman says that different ministries and departments pertaining to agriculture should come together.” For example, the Food Corporation of India(FCI),Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, and the Ministry of Rural Development could be merged.”

He says that the allocation for MGNREGA should be increased as there are a lot of dues which are yet to be cleared. “There needs to be focus on nutrition literacy and making India malnutrition free. The Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations must be fully implemented,” he says.

Sreedharan, an employee at Khadi Bhavan,T Nagar,says,“The only thing that can be said about PM-KISAN is that it is better than nothing. It is insufficient. Moreover, with the corruption being rampant, how can one trust any claim made by the Government? Remember the 2G scam? How much money did the nation lose due to it? All politicians,irrespective of their affiliations, only exist for filling their own wallets.”

Nurul Amin,42,sells jewellery on the streets of the T Nagar market. He says,“As income support, the Budget provides Rs 6,000 to farmers with land holdings upto two hectares. That’s roughly Rs 17 a day. That’s less than even the price of a water bottle which typically costs Rs 20. A kg of rice costs about Rs 65. And there is also the expenditure for treatment and medicines.”

GST, Demonetisation and the 15 lakh jumla

Before GST, the cost price of these two pieces were Rs 78 and Rs 156. Post-GST, it became Rs 82 and Rs 162. Amin says that the selling price has remained the same:Rs 100 and Rs 200.He can’t sell at a higher rate because then no one will buy them.

“Moves like GST and demonetisation hurt the informal sector.Before GST, I had to earn Rs 3000 on a given day to make a profit of Rs 500. Now I must earn Rs 5000 to make the same profit. GST increased the cost price of items, but we don’t have the luxury of increasing the selling price. Moreover, ours is an economy heavily reliant on cash; it is baseless to say that it can be converted into a digital economy,” says Amin.

Abdul Qadir,57, who works as a cashier at a restaurant in T Nagar, says,“ Modi had announced that if he came to power he would put Rs 15 lakh into the bank account of each and every Indian.That was a lie.Now the prices of petrol and diesel are rising.Moreover, the value of $1 is almost Rs 73. Earlier it was about Rs 45.”

“Whatever little has been offered in the Budget has been done with the election in mind.Even then, in Tamil Nadu he will surely lose. He may get support in north India,” he says.

The “mega pension scheme”

In his speech, Goyal announced a contribution-based pension scheme called Pradhan Mantri Shram-Yogi Maandhan for workers in the unorganised sector.

Amin says,“Often pension schemes get discontinued. The first question is whether it will be properly implemented. And the second is whether it will be carried on. Even when old people do get pensions, they often have to go the bank time and again, which leads to travel expenditure.”

Qadir raises questions about the effectiveness of the scheme.“According to the pension scheme, workers will be eligible to get Rs 3,000 per month after the age of 60. But that’s almost the life expectancy of an average man. What would be the point of such ‘social security’? And what if the person dies before he turns 60 years old? Where will the money deposited by the person go?” asks Qadir

Foreign tours,black money and education

“So much for the show of love for the people, where was he(the Prime Minister) at the time of Cyclone Gaja? I don’t know if this is Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas. And what about the amount of money which is being spent on his foreign tours? What has been the outcome?” says Qadir.

About the education sector, Qadir said, “It was good for Tamil students so long as the entrance exams were being conducted at the state level. But since the advent of National Eligibility cum Entrance Test(NEET), students have been struggling.Those who score well in the board exams falter in the entrance test. One girl even commited suicide.”

He was probably referring to a 17-year-old,Anitha, who committed suicide in 2017.

To Sreedharan, the Government’s claims about reining in black money sound dubious.

“The Modi Government keeps claiming that it has got hold of a lot of black money. If so, then why doesn’t it come back to the people?” he asks.

Water crisis and the linking of rivers as a potential solution

Sreedharan supports interlinking of rivers as solution to the water crisis.“The State faces a severe water crisis every year. Even if it rains, most of the water goes to the sea. Those who have system for groundwater harvesting are able to save some water. But interlinking of rivers must be done. That way a lot of water could be saved and its availability maintained,” asks Sreedharan.

Lack of information about the Budget

Many people have not understood the details of the Budget. “I could express a view only if I knew about the Budget. For example, though the MUDRA Yojana was announced a long time ago, I came to know about it only last week through my brother, who is preparing for the civil service exams. I am thinking of a applying for a loan under the scheme. The plans of the Government, such as the details of the Budget must be made more accessible,” says Mohit, who is a snacks seller.



Chennai:  On May 16, 2014, The Election Commission of India announced that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) with 282 seats has won the Lok Sabha election with an absolute majority. Indian National Congress (INC) with 44 seats became the second largest party. With just seven seats behind INC, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) contesting only in Tamil Nadu secured 37 out of 39 state Lok Sabha seats. Former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu J.Jayalalitha, leader of the AIADMK contesting the elections without an alliance, became the third largest party in the national parliament.

Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister, O.Pannerselvam talking to the mediapersons on Monday said, “Secret talks are being held with state and national parties to forge an electoral alliance for the Lok Sabha polls, the talks are ‘top secret’ and once a clear picture emerges, you will be the first to know.” Fisheries Minister, D.Jayakumar supporting the Deputy Chief Minister added, that his party’s doors were open to forging electoral ties with all parties except the Dravida Munetra Kazhagam (DMK) and Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK). These two Tamil Nadu based parties are led by M.K.Stalin and T.T.V.Dhinakaran respectively.

The Deputy CM’s admission that the AIADMK was holding talks with “national” parties among others was inferred by some sections as a possible exploration of electoral ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since the Congress has allied with the rival DMK.

Dr.R. Nataraj, MLA, Mylapore constituency said, “ What’s wrong in having an alliance with BJP. Modi as Prime Minister has done so many good things for the country, what’s wrong in supporting such a determined man?”

When Narendra Modi, reached Madurai for a stone laying function of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), various political organisations including the DMK and Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) protested in different parts of the State calling for a boycott of the Prime Minister.

Vaiyapuri Gopalsamy,  Leader of the MDMK said, “We will show black flags to the prime minister who does not consider Tamil Nadu as part of India. We will show our protests in all forms. I warn him not to come here if he has to be treated with respect.” On social media, #GobackModi trended with at least 2, 50,000 tweets.

With dates for announcing candidates nearing, Deputy Speaker of TN Legislative assembly, AIADMK MLA Thambi Durai told The Hindu, “The Centre had done nothing that benefitted Tamil Nadu over the past five years. What sin has the AIADMK committed to carry the BJP on its shoulders? There is no scope for the BJP to establish itself in the State.”

Anwhar Rajha, AIADMK MP from Ramanathapuram said, “An alliance with the BJP will erode the Muslim vote base enjoyed by the party. In the absence of our iconic leaders like Thalaivar MG Ramachandran and Amma (J.Jayalalitha), I hope the party will not take any hasty decision.”

With contrasting views arising inside the party, AIADMK on Feb 4 started distribution of applications for aspirant members who are willing to contest in the Lok Sabha election. According to an official report, at least 400 applications were received as of Feb 6.  

Chandrababu, an aspirant from the Perambur constituency said, “Let the high command decide on what is the best way forward. As a party worker, I will voice my opinion and if it differs from the decision taken by our leaders, I will take it as gospel and work towards implementing their order with perfection in my constituency.”

“Dissent inside the party is not a new phenomenon, every decision taken by the leaders is not supported always by all MLA’s. So it’s okay to have dissent, after all we are a democratic system and every individual has a right to express their opinion”, added, Nataraj, a Police officer turned Politician.

Poonga Nagar Selvam, tea seller and an ardent AIADMK fan hearing about the possible alliance said, “We are unhappy with the BJP’s governance and as far as Tamil Nadu is concerned, there is a strong anti-incumbency against the party due to GST, demonetisation, NEET and Mekedatu row. We will express our views to the party hig­­­h command and hope a decision is taken also to keep the DMK under check.

“There will be forces against us because of this alliance, but we hope we will be able to convince the voter through our campaign says, Balasubramaniam, an aspirant from Nammakal district, while filling his application in the party office.

In 2004, NDA partnered with the AIADMK but did not par well in the Lok Sabha election from Tamil Nadu but Congress performed better in its partnership with DMK. Touted as a major blunder back then, only time will tell whether it will become a winning combination or a blunder again.