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Perhaps the only remarkable thing about the urban local body polls is that they are happening. It’s a healthy democratic trend, for sure.
Without direct elections to pick a mayor, however, the elections have not generated much excitement. Not too long back, M K Stalin’s election for Chennai mayor generated much more interest than even Assembly polls. Nevertheless, if no party wins a majority in any of the civic bodies, the horse-trading that would inevitably follow can provide some juice.
The urban local body polls have quite a bit of political significance, it must be said. Unlike rural local bodies, political parties are contesting directly for the urban local bodies. The DMK wants to prove that the mandate it received last year remains intact. The AIADMK that did much better than expected last year wants to show it is bouncing back. The BJP wants to show that its performance this year indicates real ground-level support, rather than just a loan from the AIADMK. Actor Vijay—or at least his fans—wants to prove a point. Who doesn’t?
But the politics has completely overshadowed the real intent of these polls. Candidates are typically making generic promises pulled out of a party manual. The leaders have by and large stayed away from addressing the civic needs of the people. The DMK has missed a chance to articulate a vision for urban Tamil Nadu and explain how it will achieve it.
Stalin’s speeches are boilerplate talking points attacking the DMK’s whipping boy, the BJP. He prefaces his online videos with some perfunctory noises. On Saturday, he talked about how Tiruppur was home to a famous freedom fighter, cited a newspaper report extolling his government’s performance, and then tore into the Union government. Tiruppur and its civic needs were largely missing.
Alleged kidnappings and local shenanigans have offered some mirth though. And we take this opportunity to invoke the go-to man for Tamil quirks, Vadivelu, to add to the fun.
Have a great Sunday!
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