Flab absent in Stalin and campaign

Written by E P Unny | Ukkadam | Updated: Apr 6 2011, 09:08am hrs
The legendary Abu Abraham ran a pocket cartoon in The Indian Express featuring two Congressmen in contrast - a roly-poly one and his thin companion. A Tamil variant could be easily modelled on Alagiri and Stalin. At 58, on a make or mar campaign, Stalin looks thin as ever. After all these years in politics he hant gathered much weight, quips a sarcastic journo. His speech has no flab either, quite unusual for the Dravidian movement that virtually orated its way into power.

In fact the party seems to have run out of words. Before the leadrs arrival, the two-hour buildup is entirely taken up by blaring recorded music extolling the party symbol the rising sun that can give you the mon, followed by shattering noise from a group of drummers. Gone are the preparatory speeches and alliterative slogans that once set the stage for the star sermon.

At the sundown stopover near the Ukkadam bus station, Stalin does an SMS of DKs familiar poll plank Welfare aplenty. Lots of freebies. Lts continue the good dee. The only time he touches anything like an emotional chord is as he winds up with an appeal for a third term for his revered ageing father. The crowd dutifully applauds.

In the flag-waving audience mostly from the DMK and the Muslim League, the Congress tricolor is a nominal presence. Stalin on his part doent even mention the big Delhi ally. A couple of DMK workers in the crowd make no secret of their displeasure with the UPA that sent their minister to jail. In a neighbouring constituency where a Congressman is contesting as DMK ally, the men in khadi return the compliment, with calculated indifference to Stalns campaign tour. In a milieu sensitive to film hoarding semiotics, Congress posters put Karunanidhi on par with Sonia but Stalin is equated to Chidambaram, not to Rahul Gandhi. Why blow up the thin man and offend the big brother There is that extra uncertainty over the DKs succession line.

If this is the kind of chemistry on the ground, how do you pool votes DMK men are ready with the stock reply We are going to come back on our welfare schemes. No party has given so much to the peopl.

Jayalalithaa has given away even more and will she rollback welfare All you get is a dismissive gesture. Apart from being tongue-tied in the midst of a peaking campaign, everyone around seems to be pulling punches. Stalin said nothing about Amma either. Congressmen have their own reason not to. You never know whts in store post-poll. The most visibly excited was a five year old in the crowd who thought the sound and light show was a celebration of the World Cup win.


Ballotin

Bihu break for Assam bandhs

Guwahati: The Paresh Barua faction of the ULFA has decided not to call any Assam bandh between April 6 and April 15 in view of the upcoming Rongali Bihu festival. The second and final phase of the elections is on April 11. We have decided not to go ahead with our earlier plan of calling bandhs during the visit of the head of government and other senior Central leaders... during the forthcoming Rongali Bihu festival, the outfits publicity-in-charge Arunodoy Dohotiya said in an emailed statement.

No Kerala pact with CPM: BJP

Kozhikode: BJP leader Sushma Swaraj dismissed as baseless the Congress charge that her partys reason for not fielding a candidate against Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan is part of a secret pact with the CPM. Janata Dal(U) is our coalition partner and had wanted the seat (Mallampuzha). We have given the seat to JD(U), she said.

Assam Phase-I, final count

73.04% Turnout in 62 constituencies

76.04% Male voters

71.91% Female voters

79.67% in Lakhimpur , highest

55.04% in Haflong, lowest

3 stations to have repoll, 1 each in Barkhola, Karimganj (South) and Algapur breach

Rs 5 cr in bus

In the biggest haul of unaccounted cash in poll-bound Tamil Nadu, Income Tax officials seized Rs 5.11 crore from a private bus in Tiruchirappalli. The cash was kept in travel bags on the roof of the bus. Nobody came forward to claim it. Poll seizures so far have totalled around Rs 28 crore in cash. The previous single biggest seizure was Rs 3.5 crore at Madurai last month. No one has claimed any of the the cash seized since last month.

SEIZED SO FAR

State Cash Gold Total

Tamil Nadu 28.39 5.42 33.81

West Bengal 4.98

Assam 3.96

Total 37.33 5.42 42.75

(in Rupees crore)