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Protest masters...

Tamil Nadu seems to specialise in staging protests and demonstrations, often with the ruling party in the lead, on emotive and non-economic issues. In such efforts, the ruling AIADMK or the DMK heading the government in alternate terms since 1989, seems no different. Though, the state witnesses several sharp divisions in politics, surprisingly political parties come together on emotive issues.

One such witnessed was in regard to the Sri Lankan Tamils issue. The combined opposition by all political parties and the unanimous resolution passed in the state assembly prevented Dr Manmohan Singh, then Prime Minister during the UPA Government, to visit Sri Lanka and participate in the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meet. Different political parties made shrill voices on their support to the LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, despite the latter eliminating a large number of moderate Tamil leaders and establishing his own rival government in northern Sri Lanka. In such support, political leaders overlooked the implications-such cession demand can be made by parties in India.

These issues subsided after the defeat of the Rajapakse government under whom the war and internal strife reached their crescendo and resulted in the death of Prabhakaran and decimation of LTTE. The new government under President Sirisena - Prime Minister Wickeremesinghe coalition promised greater devolution of powers and also to safeguard the Tamils’ rights.

One witnessed outbursts on screening of films like Kamal Hassan’s Viswaroopam and on the Cauvery waters and Mullaiperiyar dam issues. The futility of litigating over these has not been understood with water being precious for every state.

A legal solution is bound to be resisted by the affected state. It is not possible to ensure compliance through court judgments. The alternative of resolution through talks and negotiations with the neighbours, unfortunately, has been made difficult by political one upmanships.

The most recent example of such an emotive issue relates to jallikattu -bull-taming. As a Tamil, I find this  largely an emotive issue of a few villages in the southern part of Tamil Nadu; with the forthcoming elections every party has jumped into the fray and had blown the issue out of all proportions.

The blame game has been freely indulged in by all parties. A senior journalist who recently visited the villages, pointed to the absence of concern over several lorry loads of cattle from these villages transported to Kerala for slaughter.

One can see a similar approach to the re-introduction of prohibition. The DMK should be aware of the incalculable damage caused by it in scrapping prohibition. Tragically, one comes across teenagers and school children getting addicted to liquor and making a beeline to Tasmac shops. Especially during weekends and festival holidays, the addicts are willing to pay extra for the premium demanded in black from the cheapest to the costliest varieties. How are they going to wean the several lakhs addicted to liquor without a credible plan for de-addiction?

With politicians thriving on the liquor trade, it is not going to be easy to bring back prohibition. Yet one sees the chorus from all major opposition parties demanding reintroduction of prohibition without a concrete plan for an alternative. The porous borders with Puducherry, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh will be difficult to plug.

 

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