Year 2020 looks boring on the political front in Tamil Nadu. The ruling party has enough numbers, the opposition is in no mood to threaten the government, and there is no election this year. But the year ahead can turn politically interesting and engaging if two men make the following New Year resolutions.
Edappadi K Palaniswami: I resolve to implement NRC
More loyal than the king that he is, EPS may try to do what many chief ministers including BJP’s Bihar ally Nitish Kumar have refused to. And trying to implement NRC will be a catalyst for a political turmoil and possibly a people’s movement in Tamil Nadu this year.
The chief minister’s casual statement that NPR is but a routine exercise the state is mandated to do following the Centre’s order wouldn’t cut ice with a large section of people who see it as a precursor to NRC, an instrument of bigotry.
Much like in other parts of the country, protest has been spreading across the state, and the government has so far handled it well, ensuring there was no police excess or violence. That’s because most of the rallies and demonstrations were organised. This could change when the protest grows organically, bringing into its fold spontaneous and sporadic elements.
And that’s when the establishment would be clueless on how to handle it. A classic example of this was the detention of a small group including women who drew anti-NRC-CAA ‘kolam’ in Besant Nagar on Saturday. Next it could be anti-NRC bindis. Will the government arrest them and lose face?
M K Stalin: I resolve to unite the opposition against NRC
The DMK president has been leading anti-NRC protests in Tamil Nadu, now he has to look beyond the state. He may not match the stature that his father had in national politics, but Stalin can reach out and join hands with other satraps who are opposed to NRC-CAA.
Many regional politicians make the mistake of not doing this because they think their focus should remain on their respective state or they lose control over their turf. Leaders like M Karunanidhi, EMS, Jyoti Basu and Sheikh Abdullah proved this theory wrong, but the younger crop remains confined to state politics. NRC and CAA present them with an opportunity to break the shackles of restrictive regionalism and emerge.
Back home, if EPS insists on NRC, Stalin will have the perfect run-up to 2021 when it could be a poll plank. The knack would be to support independent protests without trying to politically appropriate them. If the opposition to the register gains mass support, the country could see a new non-cooperation movement.
When Arundhati Roy told people to give their names to enumerators as ‘Ranga’ and ‘Billa’, BJP’s Uma Bharti said the Booker Prize winner could think of only criminals and not of such great men as Ashfaqullah Khan or Ramprasad Bismil. Bharti’s choices could’ve been a Freudian slip, but apt for the occasion. Khan and Bismil, along with Chandrasekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh, were revolutionaries of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association that took birth after M K Gandhi called off the non-cooperation movement following the 1922 Chauri Chaura violence that killed 22 policemen and three civilians. Both were hanged on December 19, 1927. Khan was 27, Bismil 30.
The tale of martyrs Khan, a Muslim, and Bismil, a disciple of Swami Somdev and Arya Samaj, fighting shoulder to shoulder against the British can be an inspiration for anti-NRC-CAA protesters. Have a mighty new year!
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.