It is not often that a bank robbery becomes a political issue.
That is the paradox of politics. Five robbers from Bihar, who robbed two banks on February 1 in Velacherry, Chennai were killed in an encounter.
It came at a time when Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha announced her ambition to become the country’s Prime Minister after the 2014 general elections.
She asked her party cadres to capture all the 39 constituencies along with the one on Puducherry also which would facilitate her ambition in case in the event of a hung Parliament after elections in 2014.
There is every chance that the encounter will help. The killing of robbers who came to Chennai as students to study Engineering earned widespread media attention.
The Human Rights Commission has issued notices to the state government to reveal all the facts relating to the incident.
There is no doubt this issue can turn out political, especially since Tamil Nadu has sub-conscious ethnic nationalism. Bihar migrants working in Maharashtra, Assam and Punjab had drawn flaks for ‘stealing jobs’ and involving in petty thefts.
Many people in these states resent immigrants, even if they are from the same country.
Tamil Nadu is comparatively open to immigrants. Former Chief Minister M G Ramachandran and Jayalalitha were immigrants. However, the electoral constituency of both was based on Dravidian nationalism, which got louder through Tamil movies.
The killing Bihar thieves has incited the ethnic nationalism again in Tamil Nadu. Sweets were distributed in the streets of Chennai after the encounter.
On the other hand, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has asked the Tamil Nadu government to give more details of the encounter. Not a person who can be pushed around easily, Jayalalitha is not likely to oblige Mr Kumar, who is also a potential candidate for the post of Prime Minister in 2014.
Speaking at a recent function, Cho Ramaswamy, editor of ‘Tuglaq’ and mentor of Jayalalitha, said that she was better suited to become the Prime Minister, especially with her ability to speak in Hindi and English.
Bharatiya Janata Party Leader L K Advani told the same audience that Jayalalitha and his Party were ‘natural friends.’
Her friendship with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi will help her to get BJP’s support in the case of a hung Parliament in the 2014 elections. It is important to note that Mr Modi is engaged in a cold war with Mr Kumar.