Social. Political. Economic. Career| Seyed Ibrahim

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Political Q & A: MMK (Need, Alliances, Seats, etc)

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Background: MMK (மனிதநேய மக்கள் கட்சி) is a new political party, an offshoot of TMMK (தமுமுக) – a socio-political and Advocacy organization doing a lot of social services. This party is not against Muslim League. In fact, this party publicly announced they won’t contest in Vellore, where Muslim League is contesting. It is natural to be skeptic of a new party. So, here is a few Q & A. Please note that these are my responses, not MMK’s. And, I’m not a member of any political party.

Q1: Why do we need a new party?

A1: Why not? Seriously, what has Muslim league done in the last 10 years for the society? It really started as a party of Muslims, and was active under great leaders. But, what’s its status now? Its MP from Tamil Nadu has contested using DMK symbol. So, technically he is a DMK MP. In other words, this party has become a minority wing for the DMK. (I’m stopping here, as my objective here is not to complain about the Grand old (or, obsolete) party of Muslims)

Q2: Why doesn’t MMK contest alone? Why alliances?

A2: Once upon a time, the National parties (Congress, Janata, etc) dominated the elections and state assemblies. Not sure how many people know about this: Congress party once ruled Tamil Nadu. During those times, the contest (for an MP or MLA) would be between two major parties. The winner has to get more than 50% of votes.

Then, regional parties (DMK, TDP, etc) started to dominate elections. Besides, the National parties split. When there are three major contestants, all he needs is 34% of votes. These days, with so many smaller parties joining the fray, even 25% of votes is enough to win.

So, what is the point? The adult franchise system of election has some major drawbacks. Every party has to work with these deficiencies, and some take advantage of this.

Example 1: Modi decisively won the elections, after Gujarat pogrom. Muslims were in ghettos, and couldn’t vote.

Example 2: Some 10-15 years ago, a party won the Punjab elections with just 10% of eligible voters supporting it. Explanation: About 50% of eligible voters could not, or did not, vote. Among those who cast the vote, only 20% voted for it.

The implication is that alliances are crucial for survival in elections. The leaders of MMK probably took the various factors into consideration when they took the decisions. The whole point of alliance is “I support you, you support me, and together we win”.

Q3: Ok. But why did they talk to Sarath Kumar’s party? He is a Cinema guy.

A3: If an alliance with Sarathkumar is not palatable for us (he is a cinema guy), how about M/S Karunanidhi, Jayalalitha & Vijayakanth? They are cinema guys too. How long Muslims have been voting for MGR (Actor), Karunanidhi (The script writer & drama guy) and Jayalalitha (Actress). Muslim league is still allied with Karunanidhi, and he is still writing for Cinema.

Q4: Sarath Kumar’s Party didn’t even get 1000 votes in Tirumangalam by-election. (I don’t know if this < 1000 votes is a fact)

A4: There’s no alliance with Sarath Kumar’s Party. But, the answer to the objection is

1. This is a general election, and it is for MP seats, and is not by-election for an MLA seat. You can’t compare both.

2. Past Performance is not an indicator of future potential (All investment brochures mention this). This applies to not just parties, but also students, employees, and everybody. Just because a 9th standard student didn’t get 200 out of 500 doesn’t mean he’ll fail in the 10th standard. It could be that his teachers aren’t competent, or he didn’t focus, or his parents sent him out for so many work etc. When circumstances change, you will realize the potential of that student.

Q5: Why is that MMK not contesting in 10 or 20 seats? Why only 4?

A5: Lack of resources (Men, money, etc). If you regularly read the local newspapers (Tamil or English) you’ll know the cost of campaigning. Reports from NGOs suggest more than a crore was spent for an MLA election by each candidate. I don’t know how much money big parties are going to spend for each constituency, but it’d be in many crores of rupees. MMK doesn’t have that much money. Not all the money is spent for ‘buying’ votes.

And it takes time to build a support base, convince general voters – not just Muslims, and many more political activities need lot of men & money. When a party has limited resources, it’s wiser to focus on a few constituencies / seats.

More Q & A (in Tamil): ம.ம.க. தேர்தல் நிலைபாடு குறித்து மக்கள் எழுப்பும் ஐயங்கள்

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Written by S Ibrahim

Apr 25, 2009 at 3:10 pm

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