Shamful Politics in Tamil Nadu

In October 2002, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and her All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK)-led government passed the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion Act 2002. The state assembly passed the bill despite the protests of minority groups in a move which brought the AIADMK closer to the Hindu Right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

According to Section 3 of the Ordinance: "No person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any person from one religion to another by the use of force or by allurement or by any fraudulent means.'' Contravention can attract a jail term up to three years and a fine of Rs. 50,000. If the convert is "a minor, a woman or a person belonging to a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe,'' the jail term can be for five years and the fine Rs.1 lakh. (Frontline)

Conversion has a long and complicated history in India, particularly among Dalits. B.R. Ambedkar called for Dalits to cast aside the Hindu religion which would not have them as equal members, and instead another egalitarian religion, such as Buddhism. Since then, many Dalit groups have converted to Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, and many others have threatened to do so if their rights were not respected. Conversion has thus become a tool of empowerment for oppressed groups, and a threat to caste Hindus.

Although the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, maintained that the Bill was only intended to prevent forcible conversions, her arguments in the course of the three-hour debate were against conversion itself. "Conversions create resentment among several sections and also inflame religious passions, leading to communal clashes." (The Hindu)

The bill was clearly intended as a popular measure which backfired in the 2004 Parliamentary elections, where the AIADMK-BJP ticket didn't win a single seat in the state. Jayalalithaa went into damage control mode, repealing a number of measures including the anti-conversion act. (The Hindu)

Now, fast forward to the Tamil Nadu state elections in 2006. The main premise of the anti-conversion act, remember, was against conversion by force, allurement, or fraudulent means.

Chief Minister and AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa has promised that if her party is voted back to power, it will provide half-a-sovereign gold free of cost to the daughters of farmers covered by the Farmers' Protection scheme, and to girls in the BPL families at the time of their marriage. This sop was due to the soaring gold price, she said. (The Hindu)

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Friday said that her party, if elected to power in the May 8 Assembly election, would distribute computers free to each and every successful candidate of the Standard XII examination. (The Hindu)

Jayalalithaa isn't the only one promising freebies. These two moves are in response to her opponent M. Karunanidhi's promise that if his Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party is elected, he'll hand out free color televisions.

The contradiction between Jayalalithaa's anti-conversion act and her election freebie promises would be reason enough to call Tamil Nadu politics a sham. The fact that no one even blinks twice proves that these two ideologically adrift parties have made a total mockery out of politics in Tamil Nadu.

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Comments

All of the bars in Tamil Nadu

All of the bars in Tamil Nadu are closed, tonight being the eve of the election. No alcohol?? How the hell are people supposed to decide whom to vote for? They give voters this lousy choice of parties and then on top of that they deny them the only reasonable means upon which they can make an informed decision. Bad form!

Exit polls seem to indicate

Exit polls seem to indicate that the people of Tamil Nadu have voted for color televisions over gold and computers. (The Hindu)

[...] A few months ago I

[...] A few months ago I wrote about the Tamil Nadu state elections. As part of its election promise, the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) promised to distribute free televisions if they were voted in. [...]

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