Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Thuglak's 44th annual meeting

Chennaivasis celebrate three main festivals every year. Deepavali, Pongal and Thuglak anniversary are all looked forward to with great fervour. Of these greatest gusto precedes the last function. It is a badge of honour for the helpless middle class to attend the annual function despite the physical strain it involves. Earlier we had an occasion in this blog to compare this Chofest with Nani Palkhiwala's talkathon on annual budget. In terms of crowd frenzy, however, the former takes the cake.

This year it was no different. On 14th January, the normally indolent and inexpressive middle class converged at the Music Academy to coalesce into a mesmerised mass ready to take up cudgels against political atrocities. The vehemence, of course, dissipated as soon as the crowd disassembled after the 3-hour odd meeting. For the function to start at 6.30 pm, the hall was fully occupied as early as 3.30 pm, a full three hours in advance! The theme of the 44th meeting was "General Elections 2014".

Recording of Bhagavad Gita and its meaning by Cho was broadcast in order to keep the eager attendees engaged and to benumb their physical discomfort. If Krishna were to deliver his message to Arjuna today, Krishna would readily declare, "Among critics, I am Cho".

Cho Ramasamy followed the usual format in conducting the proceedings. There were four parts. First, the Thuglak team was introduced to the applauding crowd. Next, some Thuglak readers were given the opportunity to voice their questions. Paeans of praise were expectedly showered on the editor of the magazine by randomly chosen readers. Cho responded to the questions then and there except the question on whom to vote for in the upcoming general elections. (Gist of Cho's response is given in the later part of this post.) The third part was the address by three political leaders namely L.Ganesan of BJP, T.K.Rangarajan of CPM and Peter Alphonse of Congress. The concluding and the most awaited part was Cho's address.

Ganesan had an easy run thanks to multiplicity of scams under the UPA regime. An interesting argument he advanced was whereas all political parties (including BJP) readily express sympathy for any minority in distress, BJP is the only party to console Hindus in distress. This in his view is the reason why the party is mistakenly attacked as non-secular. He compared Manmohan Singh to a kid who was asked by his mother to keep an eye on milk when she is away for some time because cats may turn up. When the mother returned home, the kid dutifully explained that he watched a cat really turn up and drank all the milk. (Cho subsequently explained how the prime minister is a lot worse.)

Rangarajan was comparatively unimpressive. He said that only communists understood that politics is nothing but 'concentrated economics'. He regretted that Cho is keen on decimating communism. (Not one to let go an opportunity, Cho wondered how something as dead as communism and dodo would be a candidate for decimation.) Rangarajan desired that India should not overexploit its natural resources and as expected cited China as an example of a model country that does not overexploit its mines. Cho countered this also. Rangarajan compared BJP and Congress to devil and the deep sea. They are also 'political cousins' taking similar views on Lokpal Bill. Rangarajan demanded that the bribe-giver should also be punished like the bribe-taker. He had in mind the 'corporate devils'.

Alphonse had the unenviable task of defending a party that has become a synonym for scams. (I wonder why no one highlights the presence of 'con' in congress.) In the event, he handled his job deftly save an uncalled for reference to Sonia Gandhi as 'the only leader' who was genuinely interested in the safety of prime minister Vajpayee when the terrorist attack on the parliament took place. The crowd could not resist its derisive laughter. He cleverly claimed that the audience present were unlikely to vote for his party and thus preempted scowls from the listeners. A difficult job neatly executed. He claimed that scams are not exclusively associated with any one party and that the credit for 'so much economic progress in the last 66 years' goes to Congress. (A funny argument of heads I win and tails you lose.)

Finally came the chef-d'oeuvre. Cho straightaway launched a missile on Congress calling it the fountain of corruption. If others are only in second or third standards, the Congress has completed a Ph.D. in being corrupt. He extended the story of cat. The kid even advised the cat not to drink milk. The kid also told his mother that he also noticed someone come in and take away the vessel. The kid pleaded that he sincerely carried out mother's instruction to keep an eye. (I think Cho is giving some benefit of doubt to Manmohan Singh which he may not deserve.) Cho added how Kapil Sibal came to kid's succour trying to establish there was no milk, no vessel and no cat.

Cho felt that though Raja was certainly guilty of corrupt practices in the 2G scam, disallowing his presence before JPC was only to shield persons like Chidambaram and Sonia Gandhi. He referred to the practice of the prime minister receiving chits from AP (Ahmed Patel) on coal allocation. Surprisingly, he did not refer to AP figuring in the helicopter scandal also. Age catching up? (Doesn't Sonia Gandhi have a Godlike omnipresence in all scams?)

Cho came down heavily on Aam Aadmi party. He said it is forcing itself to be an Aamaam party ('Yes' party) to Congress. He ridiculed its tendency to be high on promises and low on delivery because of compromise. From a stand of 'no politics', Arvind Kejriwal has traversed through 'no electoral contest', 'no link with Congress or BJP', 'no acceptance of power' etc.He claimed that AAP would get itself lost in its contradictions. (As if to confirm this prediction, Vinod Binny, an MLA, has started rebelling within AAP.)

Earlier Thuglak readers who spoke had wanted to know 1) why Hindu temples should be governed by a government department, 2)role of regional parties, 3)why TASMAC should function in the state and 4)why he was not contesting any election. He responded that government had a legitimate role in safeguarding the assets of temples though it should not interfere with religious practices, regional parties came up because Indira Gandhi destroyed leaders of Congress in various state including Atulya Ghosh, S K Patil and Kamaraj and the vacuum was filled up by jingoistic parties, Prohibition is not an implementable policy though timings and location of TASMAC need regulation and that he can never win any election since voters look for capacity to compromise which he sorely lacked. Rajaji, he said, was also a victim of this incapacity.

While on state politics, he continued to support AIADMK praising Jayalalithaa's leadership qualities. DMK's influence, in his estimate, continued to wane. He said DMK and Congress would continue to need each other's company to guard against their total decimation in the state.

Added on 16th January: As expected, Cho supported Modi for prime ministership. Modi, according to Cho, is assertive, decisive and honest. He disagreed with the view expressed by a reader that Gujarat under Modi was falling behind in various social parameters. The reader tactfully compared Gujarat and Tamilnadu and said Tamilnadu is progressing much faster on social indicators. Sensing the trap, Cho wanted Gujarat's progress to be assessed independently. He also desired that BJP and ADMK should discuss the possibility of mutual coordination. When a few readers of Thuglak wanted him to convince Jayalalithaa on this, he said that the general impression that the chief minister consulted him was overblown. "Jayalalithaa is an experienced administrator, capable of understanding issues and a very decisive person. Where is the need for her to consult me?"


sundar DON said...

Thanks for the information sir

Anonymous said...

Thanks. Waiting for the videos to be uploaded in utube :)

natesan_venkat's said...

Thak you very much Sir.

Senthil Kumar Krishnan said...

cho not explained yeddiyurapas role in all india. how much gain for bjp in telugana problem? dmdk stands and its plus or minus for tamilnadu/india? I WANT ANSWER FOR THESE QUESTIONS

K.R.Srivarahan said...

Mr.Senthil Kumar Krishnan,

Of these three issues, Cho dealt with DMDK. He dismissed it as a waning party not worth discussing.

வழிப்போக்கன் said...

Thank you for a fine and very tightywritten report.

Prashanth Sai said...

Continue your good blog sir!Where do i get 44th anniversary of Thuglak

vicky said...

thanks a lot for posting sir... continue your good work