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The Rediff Special/
Shobha Warrier in Molasur village, Tamil Nadu
'Just see what Vijayakanth will do'
April 25, 2006
A few kilometres from the National Highway leading to Sriperumbudur, we turned left and travelled to Molsaur village on a track that was an apology for a road. It was so bad that it was impossible to even go at 20 km per hour.
On either side of the road was farmland under cultivation.
In the middle of a farm that grew chillies and vegetables was a half-finished building, and in front of it on a cot sat a few men and a couple of women, all of them engaged in serious conversation. Given the times, it is not very difficult what they must be discussing.
We stopped our vehicle to listen to what they had to say about the election scenario in their village. The workers had finished their morning tasks and had gone back home. "It is quite hot in the afternoons. They will come back again to water the plants after 5 pm," Jacintha, the landowner's wife informed us. Her husband Jerome, who owned the land on both the sides of the road, was overseeing watering in one area. Others in the group were workers who were putting up the structure.
The ice-breaker was just one simple sentence: 'So, you were talking about the elections….'
"You saw the condition of the road. Can you call it a road? Our sitting MLA is a Congresswoman but we have not seen her in the last five years. Yes, she came last week asking for votes again. I am telling you, don't vote for her," Jacintha spoke more like a school teacher.
"But then what could she do?" asked Ezhimalai, the chief mistry. The question no doubt infuriated the youngsters in the group.
"She could have done so many things. At least repair the road. Why did we elect her? To see her face after five years?" 27 year old Anbu, who worked as a painter under Ezhimalai, argued.
"You just wait and see what Vijayakanth is going to do…" 28 year old Murugan said.
"You youngsters are getting swayed by his films. He is after all a film star. My Sir [Dr Ramdoss, founder of the Pattali Makkal Katchi] has warned us about film stars. He says they are incapable," Ezhimalai started his tirade against film stars.
"Don't say Vijayakanath is a film star. He is a political leader now. And, mind you, we are not influenced by his film star image. He talks sense. But then what has your real politicians done to the state? Let us see what Vijayakanth does. We will definitely give him a chance. Have we not given so many chances to all these politicians?" Anbu spoke as if he was a politician himself.
"He is asking us to give him a chance; one chance which we youngsters are willing to give. Have you seen how many thousands of youngsters throng his meetings to hear him speak?" asked Murugan of Ezhimalai.
"I will say again, you young people are influenced by films. But all of us old people are with the PMK ." Ezhimalai said, taking out from his pocket a pen with a photo of Dr Ramdoss on it.
"Sir, how many old men are there in the village? We youngsters outnumber you people. And, today is ours. You belong to yesterday. It is time for you to retire and sit at home," Anbu said.
"You fool! You work under me. If I am not there, who will give you daily work?" by now Ezhimalai was angry.
"Sir, don't confuse work with politics. This is our time, and our Captain's [as Vijayakanth is called] time. You just see what is going to happen in our village." This time both Murugan and Anbu spoke in one voice.
Jacintha, who was listening to the arguments, interfered. "You listen to me. I am an educated woman, a graduate. I feel we should give Captain a chance. We have given a chance to all other parties. Not only my son who is an engineering student but his friends also come and tell me, Aunty, you should vote for Vijayakanth only. I feel they are right."
She then looked at me and said, "Not only these young men but all the youngsters in our village are with Vijayakanth. There is sense in what he says."
"You should at least listen to what madam [Jacintha] says," Anbu advised Ezhimalai.
"I can only listen to my Dr Ramdoss. When he asks us to vote for Congress, I will have to vote for the Congress," Ezhimalai was now apologetic.
At this point of time Jerome came over after overseeing the irrigation, and said, "I agree with the youngsters. We need a change. I am for Vijayakanth. Let's see what he does for the state. If he also turns out to be like the others, then we will dump him."
"But that's only if he wins. No chance at all. He will lose deposit in all the constituencies," murmered Ezhimalai.
"We will see. Our bet stands. And, I am sure I am going to get Rs 500 from you, sir. Keep the money ready to give me when the counting starts," Anbu warned his boss.
Anbu then kickstarted his motorcycle and said, "Today evening Captain is going to speak at Wallajabad, and I am going there to listen to him. Because of our Captain, your PMK is going to lose votes everywhere. Captain Zindabad!" Both Anbu and Murugan shouted as the bike moved on.
Ezhimalai stood there silent and angry, like many old people in the village are. "These youngsters don't listen to us. What will we do?"
Photos: Sreeram Selvaraj