Chennai: In a state where political discourse has been the currency of power and the desire for waging “statement wars” is unending, the art of leaders’ writing their own statements has slowly faded into oblivion. And with this, the reading habits of leaders!
The population of proxies has grown (overgrown to be precise). PR agencies have also starting puncturing holes in what was the preserve of a handful of political- ghostwriters. Regular prose has replaced the rhetoric flourish of articulate leaders who were once so popular that people had even paid to attend a few meetings.
Today, most next generation politicians are engaging ghostwriters.
Though time is one luxury the otherwise well-off politicians do not have in abundance and hence deserve a concession, many leaders-to-be are content with ‘employing’ ghostwriters even if they have time. “It is no shame in political circles to engage ghostwriters. Every party has a team to review literature, collect stats and prepare drafts which go to the leaders for final clearance,” said a senior Congress functionary, adding that ghostwriters ought to know the party’s stand, have good political understanding, know about government administration and above all, the lexicon of the leader.
Take Tamil Maanila Congress leader G.K. Vasan for instance, a senior city policeman’s father and long time friend of the Kabisthalam royalty gets the facts for him, while the draft gets done by former whip Peter Alphonse. His friend turned foe and TNCC president E.V.K.S. Elangovan, a sharp-tongued speaker, also engages a party state leader who runs a party magazine in Tamil. Former Union minister P. Chidambaram who has been issuing statements unlike in the past, takes occasional help from a party functionary bearing the moniker ilakiya (literary in Tamil) to pack a punch in his statements.
A former Tamil eveninger employee turned politician and a retired bureaucrat authors the statements of actor-politician R. Sarathkumar of AISMK. His Kollywood comrade cum leader of the Opposition Vijayakanth is understood to have employed a retired Assembly secretary. As in the past when the Assembly met at intervals, the former Assembly secretary gets to write every now and then when Vijayakanth returns from his unannounced sabbatical. Now AIADMK member ‘Panruti’ S. Ramachandran did quite a bit of writing and strategy devising for Vijayakanth during his stint as DMDK presidium chairman.
Tamizhisai Soundararajan’s BJP is a strange exception to the business of issuing statements as the saffron party seldom circulates statements to the media. But for out-of-the blue invitations for its national leaders’ visits (rallies) and media briefings and office-bearer appointments, state BJP leaders consider it sufficient to issue sound bytes. The grapevine has it that Kamalayam has even approached a few journalists subscribing to its views to write its statements....
Location: Tamil Nadu