DMDK chief Captain Vijayakant announced on Thursday he would go it alone in the Tamil Nadu assembly polls after weeks of speculation on the small-but-significant party’s moves before a close election.
The announcement is a big blow to the DMK that was desperately wooing the DMDK, as Vijaykant’s 8% vote share would have bolstered the opposition party’s chances and given it momentum.
“I now clearly announce that i will contest alone,” Vijayakant said at a public meeting at Royapettah in Chennai to loud cheers.
“In my previous meeting at Kancheepuram I had asked the people if they wanted to see me as the king or the kingmaker. You all have wanted me to be the king, which is why the DMDK will go it alone in the assembly polls.”
By going alone, the DMDK is sure to split the anti-AIADMK vote and help chief minister J Jayalalithaa, said professor Ramu Manivannan of Madras University.
He said back-channel talks were going on between the AIADMK and DMDK, quoting feedback he received from some candidates who applied for MLA seats in the ruling party.
AIADMK spokesperson CR Sarswathi said it was DMDK’s internal decision and it was not for her to make any comment. “In fact, the DMDK is of no consequence and all things said about that party being the deciding factor and kingmaker and all is wrong.The election results will show the reality to the people who will vote for Amma again,” she said.
Asked about the stinging criticism of Jayalalithaa by Vijayakant and his wife Premalata, the AIADMK spokesperson dismissed it and said they should realise they became popular only after aligning with Jayalalithaa during last elections. “Their personalised attack on Jayalalitaa will not go down well with people,” Saraswathi said.
The DMDK chief, Captain Vijayakant, thanked every party and their leaders for visiting him and inviting him to join their respective political formations. But he said his voters and supporters wanted him to become chief minister, which is why after consultations with his supporters, he decided to go it alone.
Before the announcement, his wife Premalata tore into both Dravidian parties, which she said were seeped in corruption and needed to be thrown out. If the DMK was involved in 2G and Spectrum scams, Jayalalithaa is responsible for everything that is going wrong in Tamil Nadu. Even the Chennai floods were the result of her inaction on opening Chembarapakkam lake which led to flooding, she alleged.
Dubbing the chief minister as “sticker” Jayalalithaa, for attempts to appropriate credit for relief materials to flood victims, Premalata said the day elections were announced, officials were tearing down all Jayalalitaa pictures and posters from Tamil Nadu. “Please vote her out from power,” she urged the people. She also said the DMK too was equally guilty of ruining the state and Tamil Nadu deserved a corruption-free government that only the DMDK can provide, she said.
Senior BJP leader H Raja said the announcement of Vijayakant will not in any way affect the BJP, which will not become weaker. If anything, this paves the way for PMK to align with the BJP, which sources indicated would most likely happen soon.
The DMDK’s decision changes the landscape of Tamil Nadu assembly elections with multi-cornered contests, with at least five fronts in fray -- the AIADMK, the DMK-Cong, Peoples Welfare Front, the DMDK and the NDA.
If the popularity of AIADMK supremo J Jayalalitaa on account of populist schemes holds and vote against her gets split, the close nature of contests could see her emerge back as the chief minister, albeit with a lesser margin.
Unless, of course, the DMDK manages to whip up a “Kejriwal type” campaign and captures the imagination of the masses and gives Tamil Nadu a viable alternative to the Dravidian parties. But with its meagre vote share, of just 8% that dipped to around 5% in Lok Sabha polls, the DMDK can at best play the role of a spoiler. And this time around, the most damage it can make is to the DMK, which was hoping that Captain Vijayakant would join its fold.