Can Karunanidhi save the Tigers?

(February 07, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) Karunanidhi, robbed off his reputation as a protector of Tamils thanks to his shifting stand on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue, added to the people's disillusionment with him when a group of Sri Lankan Airforce officers were spotted in Chennai, soon after their 36 weeks training at the IAF base in Tambaram

By Pushpa Iyengar

Will Anna turn in his grave?

Much has been written on how the two main Dravidian parties -- the DMK and AIADMK -- routinely go against the "rational" tenets they were founded on. The fact that AIADMK is headed by Jayalalitha, a Brahmin, who caused a stampede during her first tenure as CM by turning up in Kumbakonam -- along with Sasikala Natarajan for a holy bath -- at its once in 12 year tryst with divinity, is old hat. However, the DMK has always pretended that it has stuck to its rationalist moorings even if there are questions in the media about its chief's sudden attachment to a yellow shawl and behaving not unlike Linus in Charlie Brown, who can never be parted from his security blanket.

But still it was a talking point that the DMK founder C N Annadurai's death anniversary was observed this week with special prayers in 31 major temples all over the state. While DMK ministers have, in the past, taken part in "samapandhi bhojanam" (community feasts) within temple premises as part of Anna's death anniversary, prayers were not conducted in his memory. Anna, a disciple of rationalist Periyar, after founding the DMK, modified the uncompromising atheism practiced by his leader and pragmatically adopted humanism. In his words: 'God is one and humanity is one" and that was the motto he lived by. But personally, he remained an atheist till the end, so prayers in temples for him was not something he would have wanted or approved.

But the DMK's poster boy, local administration minister M K Stalin -- who replied to the governor's address in the assembly on behalf of his father and CM Karunanidhi who is laid up in hospital with a backache since January 26 -- went to not one but three temples and was even photographed partaking of a community feast with two poor women at his side. Karunanidhi and Anbazhagan, two leaders who still profess to be rationalists, were not seen at any of the temples.

Discretion better part of valour

Karunanidhi, robbed off his reputation as a protector of Tamils thanks to his shifting stand on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue, added to the people's disillusionment with him when a group of Sri Lankan Airforce officers were spotted in Chennai, soon after their 36 weeks training at the IAF base in Tambaram. Their "secret mission" was outed when the eight officers, who had come from the war-torn country, were brought to the Seliyur police station to finish up some paper work. A local politician spotted them and alerted the media which led to the CM being red-faced at a time when there is no charitable view of the Sri Lankan defence forces here.

For months now, opposition parties have been trying to make the CM use his influence with the UPA to stop arming the Sri Lankan defence forces, forcing the LTTE's endgame in the protracted war in the island. Here was proof that not only was India doing the unthinkable but that the protector of Tamils' turf was being used to train the airforce which has been responsible for Tamils fleeing to Tamil Nadu for the last 25 years. For proof, one only has to look at the 117 camps which has nearly 75,000 refugees who have fled here to escape being caught between the LTTE and the army.

"On the CM's instructions, the chief secretary immediately got in touch with the defence ministry and demanded that the Sri Lankan air force personnel be sent back immediately," a statement from the CM's office said. Accordingly, the Centre issued instructions to send them back.

Even though the training of armed forces, including from Sri Lanka, happens routinely at different places, what caused distress is the airforce officers' presence here when emotions are running high here, particularly after the self-immolation by 26-year-old DTP operator Muthukumaran.

Last year too, the lack of discretion underlined the visit of Sri Lankan armymen to Coimbatore for training.Then too political parties had made a noise and the officers were shunted off to their country.

Once a councillor, now a chain snatcher

Most people think that politicians are venal, corrupt and have a thirst for power. Instances such as the BJP President Bangaru Lakshman taking money and stashing it in a drawer and, more recently, of the BJP MLA from Kolar Gold Fields in Karnataka taking a bribe only serve to buttress this image. But even the police was stunned when a chain snatcher they nabbed this week turned out to be a former councillor E Ranganathan who represented Rathinamangalkam area for four years.

Police say that a drunk Ranganathan was waiting on the platform at Tambaram police station when he spotted 27-year-old Priya about to board a train and grabbed her gold chain. When she shouted for help, Ranganathan, dropped the chain and ran only to be wrestled to the ground. In a classic case of "finders keepers, losers weepers", the chain was never found despite an intensive search for several hours. It would only be naïve to think that a gold chain would not be snapped up in a nanosecond on a railway platform.

But Ranganathan is in judicial custody. Apparently, before alcohol took control of his life, Ranganathan was capable of seeking and getting votes. Now he is a total loser.

A hottie who's not so cool

Last year she was this sexy siren who was given a blank cheque by producers because only Nayantara could be red hot like she was in Billa, sizzle in Satyam and even kiss on screen with Simbu. But after a few duds at the box office, and rival Asin now much sought after even in Bollywood with Ghajini smashing all records, Nayantara is beginning to understand that life is not always starry when you get on the wrong side of producers. She now faces a ban after the Tamil Film Producers' Council (TFPC) and the South Indian Artistes' Association (SIAA) this week issued a statement telling producers not to work with her. This is retribution for Nayantara's refusal to return the advance amount she had received for Paiya.

According to an existing deal between TFPC and SIAA, if an actor works even for a day in a film, the advance is waived, but if the actor does not turn up for the shoot, the money has to be refunded. And since Nayantara did not show for the shoot, she was asked to return the money within a set timeframe. But when she reportedly sent a message saying she would not return the money, producer Subash Chandra Bose complained to TFPC and trouble is knocking on Nayanatara's door. What's worse for her is that talks are on with producers of Malayalam and Telugu films to ban her. Just when she decided to go back Malayalam and Telugu films hoping that her lean season will end there.

-Sri Lanka Guardian