The last film he acted in was released years ago, but Opposition leader Vijayakanth has never ceased to be performer. Even as he hogged the limelight due the performance of his party in the hustings, he garnered equal or more attention over the controversies he created along the way.
Here are some of the best – or worst – of them:
#1. In March 2011, while campaigning for his party candidate at Dharmapuri district ahead of the last Assembly election, Vijayakanth shocked all by hitting the candidate on his head repeatedly. The candidate, A Bhaskar was standing next to the leader inside the campaign van when it happened. This was played out in full public view, with news TV cameras capturing every moment of the drama that was telecast repeatedly all through the election campaign – it did not help that many of these channels were run by his political rivals.
Sources close to the actor claimed that he was angered due to some problem with the wireless mike which was not addressed despite specifically asking him to. To buttress the claim, they pointed out that ‘Captain’, as he is known among his faithful, threw the mike away before hitting the candidate.
His opponents, however, was not convinced. According to them, Vijayakanth got his candidate’s name and introduced him to the voters as Pandian. Bhaskar tried to correct his mistake, which sent him into a fit of rage.
Commenting on it later, the leader justified his actions, stating that those whom he has beaten up have all gone on to become Maharajas. Not surprisingly, Bhaskar denied such an incident ever happened.
#2. In February 2012, in the midst of a heated debate inside the State Assembly, Vijayakanth was provoked by shouting from the ruling AIADMK while he was raising an issue. An angry Vijayakanth threatened to jump over the benches to reach the rival side and made some gesture in warning. This was a new low even in the always fractious and argumentative Tamil Nadu Assembly, for which the Speaker suspended him for 10 days.
#3. Though a filmstar and a politician, both professions that work in close association with the media, Captain has never shied away from fighting with them. One such case was in April 2015, while he was in Delhi leading a delegation of opposition leaders to meet the Prime Minister to raise issues concerning Tamil Nadu. As he was addressing a press meet explaining the details about the journey to the national capital and the apparent outcome, the reporter from Jaya TV from the AIADMK stable and a Tamil newspaper peppered him with questions, which drew his ire. After his repeated attempts to silence the reporters failed, he threatened the throw the mike on them if they did not stop. Other leaders including union minister and BJP leader Pon Radhakrishnan and DMK’s Rajya Sabha member and his personal friend Tiruchy Siva trying to pacify the DMDK leader, who walked off in a huff boycotting the press conference. Finally, his brother-in-law LK Sudheesh and a few other confidantes convinced him to return and address the press conference.
#4. It was the district secretary of the party, also an MLA, who was at the receiving end when the actor-turned-politician was on a visit to the flood-ravaged parts of Cuddalore district in November last. Sivakozunthu was trying to control the crowd that had gathered around the leader’s van when he was slapped on the back of his head. The MLA later claimed that he was not beaten up, but was only admonished by the leader. However, none knows the reason.
#5. The latest controversy was a month ago in December when he allegedly spat at reporters who had gathered around him. Vijayakanth was ticked off when a reporter asked him questions on AIADMK returning to power in the coming election. After replying sarcastically, he spat in disgust charging the media of not being courageous enough to raise similar questions to Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. This led to protests before his residence in Chennai, which ended in a fracas between journalists and his party men. It is this case that has now reached the High Court of Madras, which on Friday asked the city police to inquire into the complaint against him.