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Karunanidhi disappoints rural voters

By Ganesh Nadar in Kurumbur
April 20, 2006 22:50 IST
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A small but vociferous crowd was disappointed Thursday evening in Kurumbur, Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu. They had been waiting for two hours for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief. When he finally did turn up, he stopped for just one minute.

A man who can keep any crowd mesmerised with his oratory skills spoke just three lines. "The DMK candidate for this constituency is Jayaseelan. Please vote for the 'Rising Sun'(which is the party symbol). Thank you for the rousing reception."

Kurumbur is the common bazaar for about 18 villages. It's always crowded in the evening. Today you could see many DMK party cadres and supporters in the crowd. The entire road was decked up with DMK flags. Half of the posters had Karunanidhi on them, the other half had Stalin on them.

None of the allied parties including the Congress had put up a single poster or flag. Songs were playing over several loudspeakers. They were all set to tunes from Rajinikanth movies. Some of them criticised Jayalalithaa and others praised Karunanidhi.

In between songs local speakers entertained the crowd. Like the songs the theme was the same. Either you praised the DMK or criticised the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

The power went off. Absolute silence. Cadres felt that the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board was going to sabotage their meeting. A phone call to the TNEB revealed that they were just changing a jumper and the power would be restored in 10 minutes. They had no intention of spoiling any election meeting.

The songs were playing from 5 pm onwards. All speakers referred to Karunanidhi as 'Doctor Kalaignar'. Nobody took his name. This is the same with the ADMK. They all refer to Jayalalithaa as 'Amma'.

At 6 pm the lights came on. The entire bazaar was lit up with tubelights that had been specially put up. Power was taken from the shops of supporters. The customary hook on the main power lines was missing. Guess! That is only for the ruling party.

DMK caps were now visible. Young boys were waving DMK flags.

The cops were lazing around. Every time their inspector's jeep came into view, they got excited. They started shooing the crowd.

Now the songs were set to qawwali music. There was this Maruti Omni cab that was bringing party workers from the nearby villages. The cab driver was very happy. "I am getting Rs 1,000 per day. I use only Rs 200 worth of diesel," he confided.

At 7 pm the crowd was getting restless. One of the speakers reminded the crowd that the same cops who were waiting to protect their leader had one night stormed into his house. They had manhandled him and arrested him. Today they were ready to protect him as they knew that he was the next chief minister. The cops laughed.

Rajagopal who had just come from the district headquarters said that Karunanidhi had attracted a huge crowd in Tuticorin.

Communist flags could be seen in the crowd now. On the first floor of the building nearby you could see curious kids.

Karunanidhi's vehicle approached. The speaker shouted deliriously. He started shouting slogans for his leader and his son Stalin. Crackers were lit, the noise was deafening. In a minute, he was gone.

The crowd was disappointed. One young boy said, "He can't even stand up, how is he going to govern." An old man agreed: "People have been standing here since 5 pm. He should have said something more."

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Ganesh Nadar in Kurumbur