Just days after his release from the Puzhal jail, folk-artiste Kovan seems to be now on a political tour, the most recent being his meeting with DMK chief M Karunanidhi and the party’s campaign spearhead MK Stalin.
Kovan had earlier reportedly met MDMK chief Vaiko too, to thank him for his support during Kovan’s arrest. Speaking to the media after meeting the DMK leaders, Kovan said that he came to thank the leader for supporting him, opposing the AIADMK and requested that DMK join the anti-liquor protests.
There are likely to be two consequences to Kovan meeting the political leaders, especially Karunanidhi.
First, there is a strong possibility now that the anti-liquor protests come back to hit the AIADMK-led government with renewed vigour. While Kovan has openly said that he will continue to campaign against alcoholism on the back of his new found fame, sources in the DMK say that the party too is now all set to regain an opportunity which was deemed lost.
Preparations are being made to re-start the campaign targeting the AIADMK government and it is likely that other political parties and groups, like DMDK, PMK and People’s Welfare Alliance, will join in to attack their common enemy – the Jayalalithaa government. Kovan’s popularity, image of a firebrand activist along with his folk music and ctchy lyrics will add fervour to the campaign, which has since lost steam.
Secondly, and what is more worrying is that Kovan himself and his anti-state rhetoric are now permanently tarnished by party-politics.
It is understandable as to why Kovan is doing this. When the TN government moved the Supreme Court seeking his custody, which had earlier been denied by the Madras HC, many wondered why the government was taking so much effort to get him back into custody. It was probably to stop him from precisely what he is doing now - go around seeking political support. Now that he is out, Kovan is entitled to seek friends for both protection and strengthening his own politics and activism. But this will also now make him the target of attacks from the AIADMK as a front for the DMK and other political parties, and justifiably so.
There is a sense of political opportunism, and perhaps even hypocrisy, in what Kovan is now practicing and preaching.
Kovan’s outfit Makkal Kalai Ilakkiya Kazhagam (MKIK), an ultra-leftist organization which was not very well known, has a history of speaking up against parties for electoral politics – what they used to call ‘vote poriki politics’. They did not believe in electoral politics. Even last week, Kovan spoke to TNM and said that their politics is neutral to the bipartisan nature of Dravidian politics. But now, things seem to have changed. He had already jumped on to the ‘democracy’ bandwagon in our interview, stating that he believed in the institution. That itself seemed like a departure from his earlier views.
Now, he has gone a step further in actively seeking support from opposition political parties. And it was important to have the right optics here, if political parties were interested in offering him their support, what was the need for him to go visit them and make a public spectacle of it?
What’s worse about shaking hands with the DMK is the fact the party, much like the AIADMK, actively encouraged alcoholism in the state. Many DMK party stalwarts have in the past owned or continue to own distilleries, which supply to TASMAC. What measures were taken by the DMK government against alcoholism? Is it not a fact that DMK is as guilty as the ADMK in proliferating a culture of alcoholism in the state?
With his recent political meetings, Kovan has lost the trust and belief, which are usually reserved for ideologues that stay away from mainstream politics.