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Subramanian Swamy, the Loonyswamy of Madurai
by Sachi Sri Kantha, August 14, 2012
Don’t get me wrong. But I have to give due credit that General Sarath Fonseka was partially right when he mentioned in December 2008 that Tamilnadu politicians are jokers. The leader of this jokers pack, Subramanian Swamy, has now become the toast of Colombo. The Colombo Daily Mirror of August 10th carried the caption, “Victory over the LTTE should be honoured- Dr Swamy.” This ‘loonyswamy’ has proposed that India should honor President Mahinda Rajapaksa with a Bharat Ratna award. Ha! Ha! Ha!
I assure the readers that the conjectural word ‘loonyswamy’ was not my creation. It first appeared in a cartoon by Hemant Morparia in December 1990, when Subramanian Swamy was anointed as a cabinet minister to Chandrasekhar’s short tenure as prime minister from November 1990 to June 1991.
In his Colombo speech, Swamy proudly bragged, “As an Indian and a Tamil, let me say at this point that the overwhelming proportion of the people of Tamil Nadu had rejected the LTTE whenever they were made to make a call.” This brings us to the corollary question, whether Swamy himself has been accepted by the Tamil Nadu folks.
Swamy is a politician who cannot win either a Lok Sabha election or a Tamilnadu state assembly election, standing on his own feet. He did win only once in 1998 (12th Lok Sabha), polling 266,202 votes, with the help of Jayalalitha’s AIADMK vote bank. In the subsequent year (13th Lok Sabha), when Jayalalitha withdrew her support, Swamy came tumbling down, with only 20,489 votes! Then, in 2004 (14th Lok Sabha), Swamy could poll only 12,009 votes (1.62% of the total votes polled). Previously, Swamy had been in the Indian parliament, winning two elections in 1977 (6th Lok Sabha) and 1980 (7th Lok Sabha) in the then Bombay, riding on the anti-Indira Gandhi vote. Commentators had ascribed those two victories of Swamy as ‘even a donkey could have won in Bombay in 1977 on anti-Indira vote’. He is a living example that not all who received their education at Harvard University are well endowed with wisdom and commonsense.
As all Indian politicians are, Swamy has been a crass opportunist. When it suits his fancy, he throws flame on others. Then, when it suits his upward progression, he will shower praise on those whom he had previously derided. In 1987, when Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister, Swamy ridiculed him as “an inexperienced, semi-literate with no clue as to where he wants to take the country and, therefore, unfit to be prime minister of a great country like India” [Illustrated Weekly of India, June 7, 1987, pp.16-17]. Then, two years later, the same Rajiv Gandhi turned into a great friend, who wanted Swami to become the prime minister of India.
I checked Swamy’s website [http://www.janataparty.org/president.html]. It seems that for false prestige, he is still living in 1998. Two sentences of his profile state, “He is a political leader with a difference. Presently he represents the historic city of Madurai in Lok Sabha, his faith term in Parliament, elected in 1998.” There is no dispute about the first sentence. See the next two paragraphs for the views of Najma Heptullah and Ram Jethmalani. But, the fact in the second sentence deserves correction. Swamy’s term as an MP for Madurai lasted only one year. He has yet update it to 2012, though India had seen general elections in 1999, 2004 and 2009!
Many in India have strong opinions about Swamy’s flame-throwing career in politics. I offer two views from non-Tamils (one from a woman politician and another from Swamy’s bête noire). Najma Heptullah, who once held the deputy chairperson post in the Rajya Sabha, quipped about Swamy’s tantrum as a podium chaser as follows: “Dr Swamy belongs to that breed of men who want to be bridegroom at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral.” [Illustrated Weekly of India, June 17, 1990, p. 64]
In 1998, Ram Jethmalani (born 1923), one of India’s prominent lawyers and politicians, aptly summed up Swamy’s career as “This diseased insect”. His choice words about Swamy’s vainglorious politics deserve a re-reading.
Ram Jethmalani had aptly identified what condition Swamy suffers from. Swamy suffers from the megalomania of being born a Tamil Brahmin. Do not misunderstand me, not all Tamil Brahmins are infected by this virus of caste superiority. But, Swamy’s case is pathetic. His constant carping on the LTTE’s leadership can only be attributed to this pernicious megalomania. Not only Prabhakaran, even those politicians who were born in the lower rung of the caste hierarchy (such as Karunanidhi) have been Swamy’s enemies. Swamy has also crossed swords with fellow Tamil Brahmin politicians as well, like R.Venkataraman and Mani Shankar Aiyar. This should be attributed to ‘Mine is bigger than Yours’ mentality and not to caste superiority.
The Colombo Daily Mirror [Aug.10] did provide the complete text of Swamy’s speech. There was nothing in it, which was refreshing to one’s mind. The text was insipid, merely rehashing the same landmark events that had happened in the island since 1956. I guessed that the text of his speech was prepared by the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry’s propaganda unit. If only Swamy had the spine to tell his Colombo audience what he wrote in his op-ed piece featured in the Daily News and Analysis (DNA) in the summer of 2011, which resulted in Harvard University dropping him as a summer school instructor. In that ethnophobic piece, Swamy wrote that India’s Muslims be not permitted to vote unless they acknowledge their Hindu ancestry. How come Swamy turned into a chicken in Colombo, that he couldn’t repeat the same ethnophobic line -- that the Muslims in Sri Lanka should acknowledge their Hindu ancestry?
This brings us to the question, why was Swamy invited to Colombo? We are familiar with words like ambulance-chaser and skirt-chaser. But, Swamy is one politico whom I’d call podium-chaser. The neat arrangement made by the Rajapaksa clan and Swamy in bringing the latter to Colombo reeks of mutual back-scratching. One may be curious to know, how much of an honorarium was paid to Swamy for his promoter role of Mahinda Rajapaksa to the Bharat Ratna award?