Jaya vs Marans: Vendetta is incidental in the battle of biggies
At separate ends of the political divide, the Marans and Jayalalithaa never shared comfortable vibes. But the recent actions against the former are not only about politics.
Is it vendetta politics at work? Or, is it just the old vices coming back to haunt the Marans? In the highly politicised environment of Tamil Nadu, it is difficult to set one apart from the other.
It’s public knowledge that there’s no love lost between Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and the Maran clan which owns the Sun Network, one of the most profitable television networks in Asia. That the Sun Network, headed by Kalanidhi Maran virtually served as the publicity arm of the DMK and that the Marans have family ties with DMK first family makes the mutual animosity all the more pronounced.
It comes as no surprise that Marans have been at the receiving end after Jayalalithaa came to power in the state. The summoning of Kalanidhi by the police in connection with a case of cheating involving Sun TV’s movie unit Sun Pictures is the latest in the series of moves against the power network built by him. That it comes in the season of bad news for the DMK could be a coincidence.
Last week, Dayanidhi Maran, Kalanidhi’s younger brother, had to resign as the Union textile minister after allegations that he, as the telecom minister in the UPA’s first stint, forced businessman C Sivasankaran to sell Aircel to the Malaysia-based Maxis Group. The younger Maran is also facing allegations that he set up a mini-telephone exchange at his Chennai residence to supply 323 telephone lines to Kalanidhi’s Sun Network.
In the present case, the police have already arrested Hansraj Saxena, the chief operating officer of Sun Pictures, in connection with the case. He has been named in at least eight more cases involving production and distribution of two other Tamil films. Kalanidhi may not have much to do with some of these personally but his summoning by the police could be part of Jayalalithaa’s design to deliver a body blow to the aura of power enjoyed by him.
"Whatever complaints have been received (against the Marans), whatever evidence has come to light, will be acted upon with all seriousness," she had warned earlier.
Jayalalithaa is not one to make idle threats. She has already launched an attack against the cable TV network of the Marans. Kalanidhi’s Sun Cable Television (SCV) is the biggest TV distribution network in the state and has been a big part of the propaganda machinery of the DMK. Jaya wants to nationalise the cable network in the state, thereby taking away the unique advantage enjoyed by the rival business house and the political party. In that case, Arasu, the state-owned TV distribution company would control all cable distribution.
Meanwhile, the troubles seem to be pouring on Maran’s Sun Network empire. Actress Ranjitha, who was shown in a compromising position with the controversial Swami Nithyananda, has filed a police complaint against Sun TV alleging that the video was defamatory. She has claimed that she was not the person with the swami. The chief minister has reportedly promised her support in the case.
It’s a case of what goes around comes around for the Marans. Reading political vindictiveness in the actions against them may not help much. They have been extremely influential, and unpopular too, in their spheres of operation. Sun Pictures has been accused of using the strong arm tactic to stiffle all opposition in the Tamil film industry and SCB has been accused of killing competition by hook or crook.
It’s pay back time.