CUDDALORE: People are making a beeline for the stage, where two empty seats flank the centre of attraction. Seated with his hands folded is DMDK founder Vijayakant, even as a steady trickle of cadre climbs the podium, occupies the empty chairs for a brief while, poses for a click and makes way for the next lucky party workers. However, there is something different. There’s no usual banter with journalists, no temper tantrum, but only silence. Vijayakant is not uttering a word.
This is Vijayakant’s new stratagem to boost the failing morale of the party workers. Named Ungaludan Nan (I am with you), the event sees Vijayakant posing for a click with his loyalists and their families to drive home the point that he is with them. Monday’s event at Chidambaram and Panruti saw hundreds of cadre throng the venues for the one for the family album.
Ungaludan Nan is part of the DMDK top brass’ plans to pump fresh energy into the rank and file after the demoralising drubbing in the last Assembly election, where the party tally was zilch.
With Ungaludan Nan, Vijayakant hopes to strike a rapport with his fan base and get them ready for the future hustings. “Party cadre are depressed. Our leader wants to encourage them and has started on an Ungaludan Nan campaign to address the core issue of the grassroots workers that they are unable to meet or speak with their leader. Vijayakant interacts and takes photographs with them to keep their spirits up,” says a party functionary.
While interaction forms the core of the new stratagem, there is little of that here. Vijayakant sits silently amid a steady trickle of cadre. In Chidambaram and Panruti, there were long queues. The crowd management is done by party functionaries, who issue token to the waiting cadre. Priority is for those landing at the venue with families, particularly children.
The ritual starts with Vijayakant taking a seat at the centre. Cadre pay obeisance, sit on the empty chairs and leave after the click. Vijayakant hardly speaks to those posing alongside him. The cadre are advised to collect their copies from a local studio.
There was a scuffle at Kadampuliyur near Panruti, where hundreds gathered to get a glimpse of their leader. When the crowd became uncontrollable, Vijayakant left the stage – again without uttering a word – and returned 15 minutes after some semblance of peace was restored. Silently he took his chair, went through the motion and left the venue without uttering a word.