Captain at Crossroads on Alliances, En Route to Delhi
By Shyam Balasubramanian - CHENNAI
Published: 09th Feb 2014 09:24:55 AM
The fractured political field in Tamil Nadu ahead of the coming Lok Sabha elections has seen the rise of a heartless coquette, who is courting a number of the major political parties for an alliance, poised to turn heartbreaker. Vijayakanth, the actor-turned-politician who leads the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), is the only significant face yet to clearly state with which alliance his allegiance would lie for the Lok Sabha polls. This is has led to confusion not only among the various alliances, but also within the DMDK itself.
Vijayakanth, his wife Premalatha and his brother-in-law L K Sudhish are the only three people with any real decision making power within the party. All three of them maintain a low profile, and the heavy concentration of power has meant that there is little reliable information that reaches party functionaries or the press.
Vijayakanth has been unable to decide which alliance he should throw his lot with. So strong has this indecision been that Vijayakanth opted not to field a candidate for the lone undecided Rajya Sabha seat that came up for grabs recently. The DMDK candidate in the previous election to the Council of States had been defeated by DMK’s K Kanimozhi in June 2013. But this time around, Vijayakanth chose not to slug it out with the DMK. Vijayakanth’s decision did away with the necessity for an election. Sources in the party explained that their leader had not wanted to rub any prospective ally the wrong way. That Vijayakanth has been confused over who is a better ally to have is clear from the fact that he has held talks with three of the four fronts that have line up to face the polls. The AIADMK-led alliance is out of bounds for him, after an ugly fallout between the former allies, and AIADMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa stating openly in the Assembly that she regretted her alliance with Vijayakanth. He has held discussions with the fronts led by the DMK, BJP and the Congress.
Of these three, Vijayakanth is least likely to go with the Congress, which stands alone in the promise of a massive anti-incumbency wave. Anyway, the Congress has little to no clout in Tamil Nadu, wielding some influence in a few pockets.
Despite this, party sources say Sudhish, who is also the DMDK’s youth wing secretary, has established a channel of talks with the Congress high command in Delhi. Union Shipping Minister G K Vasan, who commands the largest clique in the faction-ridden state unit of the party, shares an equation with Vijayakanth that extends to before the actor took the political plunge. But that equation may not matter much to a leader who dreams of sending his party’s first representative to Parliament, less than a decade after the party was formed.
The DMK too is a troublesome corner for Vijayakanth. He has always maintained a strong line of criticism against the DMK. He has personally hit out at DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi, going so far as to call him ‘a jackal’ in the run up to the 2011 Assembly polls. Event though Karunanidhi is waiting with open arms, Vijayakanth may just find himself unable to justify such a truck to his party cadre. The DMK leadership too has said the DMDK has not formally responded to its overtures.
The strongest contender for Vijayakanth’s backing is the BJP, which seems to be attempting to extend a national zeitgeist to Tamil Nadu. A fringe player at best in the state, the BJP has suddenly found itself able to attract allies, albeit with the exception of the majors. According to senior BJP leaders, all talks with the DMDK have been completed, and they are waiting for Vijayakanth to decide.
Here, in the presence of a perceivably underdog alliance—which includes the PMK, MDMK and fringe players like the Indhiya Jananayaka Katchi and regionally strong Kongu Nadu Makkal Desiya Katchi—Vijayakanth seems to be keeping a confirmation of alliance on hold till he gets his pound of flesh with the blood.
Vijayakanth was expected to have decided which alliance he would join before the DMDK’s state-level conference held at Ulundurpet on February 2. But, given the dogging uncertainty, he ended up talking himself into a corner. As the speech progressed and he ventured into the subject of an alliance, the crowd goaded him to face the polls alone.
With time running out, Vijayakanth now seems to be in a dire spot because of its uncertainty. He is likely to be forced to make a decision, irrespective of what that is, within the coming week. Only once he decides where the DMDK will lay its allegiance will some clarity emerge over the trend for the Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu.