A daughter’s lost paradise

Profiling Kanimozhi, who has emerged as one of the key protagonists in the 2G spectrum scam. It's a dark, sad poem for the Tamil poetess

Sadiq naqvi Delhi 

"I never thought that my daughter would be so tough to handle. Thus far, I believed her to be a soft one. She has proved to be a hard nut to crack," Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi is said to have remarked during the bitter tussle within DMK over berths in the Union Cabinet in 2009. Then, the patriarch's intellectual and literary heir had succeeded in her fight for a level playing field with Dayanidhi Maran, DMK's 'flexible face' in Delhi who was all set to head the telecom ministry. She turned the tables and the portfolio fell in the lap of A Raja, a close friend. 

Kanimozhi Karunanidhi was born to Rajathiammal, Karunanidhi's third wife. It is said that when Karunanidhi openly accepted his relationship with Rajathi, Kanimozhi was already doing her graduation. A 'social activist' and poet, she entered politics very late only on the insistence of her mother, who is said to be a politically savvy, powerful woman in the clan, with many ministers directly reporting to her. Kanimozhi also worked as a sub-editor with the Chennai-based The Hindu.   
With the mother pitching for her daughter's share, it is this tussle which has recently been the bone of contention within the family, with the two brothers, Alagiri and Stalin, growing wary of an ambitious Kanimozhi's rise within the party. Apparently, it was Rajathi who got Kanimozhi the Rajya Sabha seat. 

Since then, the soft-spoken daughter of the patriarch has been consistently consolidating her position. When the Kalaignar fell out with the Marans, it was Kanimozhi who became the party's face in Delhi, becoming the interlocutor between the 'leader' and Congress. However, the transfer of Alagiri to Delhi changed the dynamics of power and Kanimozhi was yet again sidelined. 

At 43, comparably younger than her step-brothers, she has been busy building the women's wing of the party, holding workshops and classes across the state. 

"The media-triggered public debate on women and Tamil culture is depressing and distressing. From clothes to sexuality to social norms, why is it that only women are made to bear the burden of morality and what gets defined as 'Tamil culture'? The media abets the process by using women's 'honour' to sell newspapers and magazines. The same Tamil press thrives on splashing pictures of semi-nude women from all parts of the world to boost sales. They sensationalise any reportage concerning women. All this will only lead to increased violence against women," she wrote in an opinion piece. 

Many say she is building her support base to take on rival Jayalalithaa at a later stage. "She is struggling to grow. However, there is strong opposition from Selvi, her step-sister," said a political observer.    

Alagiri's bitter dislike for his step-sister Kanimozhi is now well-known. Recently, he submitted his resignation to the 'leader' asking for A Raja's suspension. He was also visibly upset over Kanimozhi's alleged involvement in the 2G spectrum scam and wants her to keep a low profile and maintain distance from Tamil Mayyam, an NGO whose office was raided by the CBI in connection with the 2G scam. Kanimozhi is said to be on the NGO's board. 

Moreover, many of Niira Radia's conversations with her (and others, where she is ritualistically mentioned) are now in public domain. Clearly, 2G, A Raja and the vicious loop of multimillion scams have severely dented her image. The feminist seems to have lost her feminism, and the poet seems to have lost her poetry. Only the stink of power, greed and dirty money remains. Thick-skinned and a hard nut, she said on March 26, "We will come out clean." But the muck sticks.

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: APRIL 2011