FALLEN AN­GEL

India Today - - UP FRONT - Meena Kan­dasamy is a writer and an ac­tivist

Spec­u­la­tion about what the fu­ture holds for Kan­i­mozhi, es­pe­cially with re­gard to her po­lit­i­cal and cul­tural ca­reer, is an ex­er­cise in point­less­ness. Once it ap­peared that the poet-princess would never be de­throned and no­body could have fore­told this fall. She strove to be cast as an icon of Tamil cul­ture, and took ev­ery ef­fort to care­fully cul­ti­vate the im­age of be­ing the epit­ome of Tamil wom­an­hood. She earned su­perla­tive praise for throw­ing to­gether a cul­tural ex­trav­a­ganza like Chen­nai Sanga­mam. She did not miss a sin­gle photo-op to pose with trans­gen­ders or other marginalised groups but it was only the Ra­dia tapes which re­vealed that be­hind this fa­cade of an eter­nally sac­ri­fic­ing wo­man was a shrewd politi­cian who lob­bied to be­come the na­tion’s avi­a­tion min­is­ter.

The lit­er­ary per­son­al­i­ties, writ­ers, jour­nal­ists and aca­demics whom she had be­friended in her ca­pac­ity as Karunanidhi’s lit­er­ary heir have now fallen silent and even her strate­gic use of the Nadar caste card has not won her any sym­pa­thy. At the end of the day, it is go­ing to be dif­fi­cult for her to re­build her frac­tured fame.

Tamil peo­ple are not go­ing to be shocked when a mem­ber of a busi­ness em­pire called the Karunanidhi-maran fam­ily is ac­cused of cor­rup­tion. We know that they have a finger in ev­ery pos­si­ble pie and, as a con­se­quence, they are one of the rich­est fam­i­lies in South Asia. What has in­stead sur­prised us is the open man­ner in which Karunanidhi has pledged his pol­i­tics to suit his fam­ily in­ter­ests. Cadres of the DMK are be­ing pushed into ac­tion for the sake of Kan­i­mozhi.

The DMK pa­tri­arch could keep his com­po­sure in­tact even as clus­ter bombs rained on Tamils in Vanni, but turned teary eyed when his daugh­ter de­vel­oped blis­ters af­ter her first week of im­pris­on­ment in Ti­har Jail. This oc­to­ge­nar­ian leader could only write let­ters to the In­dian Prime Min­is­ter when lakhs of Tamils faced im­me­di­ate ex­ter­mi­na­tion at the hands of the Sri Lankan Govern­ment but he flies to Delhi ev­ery other week to visit his daugh­ter. Sadly, the per­sonal is the po­lit­i­cal.

Those who be­lieve that five months in prison and a trial by ju­di­cial fire will re­store Kan­i­mozhi to her former glory have got it all wrong. One must re­mem­ber that she has not been jailed un­der the TADA or POTA or any other dra­co­nian Act. She is not a po­lit­i­cal pris­oner. She has not gone to jail be­cause she rep­re­sented the peo­ple, or any of their as­pi­ra­tions. She is in jail be­cause of per­sonal greed. She can­not even claim that she is be­ing im­pris­oned be­cause of po­lit­i­cal vendetta. In her case, there can be no halo of mar­tyr­dom or vic­tim­hood or tor­tured wom­an­hood. No prison po­etry, no jail diary, can sal­vage her rep­u­ta­tion.

Im­ages of a trau­ma­tised Kan­i­mozhi, or news of her break­ing down in the court­room af­ter be­ing de­nied bail by Jus­tice O.P. Saini, might hog head­lines at the mo­ment. But, the peo­ple of Tamil Nadu will find it im­pos­si­ble to for­give or for­get the im­ages of Kan­i­mozhi rub­bing shoul­ders with Mahinda Ra­japaksa and smil­ing shame­lessly in Oc­to­ber 2009 even as 3,00,000 Tamils con­tin­ued to be held cap­tive in con­cen­tra­tion camps. She turned traitor when she vis­ited Sri Lanka as an of­fi­cial guest of a govern­ment that had cold-blood­edly com­mit­ted the geno­cide of 1,50,000 Tamils only a few months be­fore. Her es­trange­ment from the peo­ple came about not merely be­cause she be­longs to “up­per ech­e­lons of the so­ci­ety” (in Jus­tice Saini’s words), or be­cause of the taint of re­lent­less cor­rup­tion that has en­veloped her. She failed Tamils trag­i­cally, both with her si­lence and her dou­ble­tongued speech.

The 2G scam has en­sured that she is no longer a me­dia dar­ling. Tamil peo­ple how­ever dis­owned her two years ago. Her rep­u­ta­tion, like that of sev­eral other Tamil po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, lies buried in the mass graves in Mul­li­vaaikkal.

The peo­ple of Tamil Nadu will find it im­pos­si­ble to for­give or for­get the im­ages of Kan­i­mozhi rub­bing shoul­ders with Mahinda Ra­japaksa and smil­ing shame­lessly in Oc­to­ber 2009 even as 3,00,000 Tamils con­tin­ued to be held cap­tive in con­cen­tra­tion camps.

SAU­RABH SINGH /www.in­di­a­to­day­im­ages.com

by MEENAKANDASAMY

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