Vijayakanth’s DMDK joined hands with Vaiko-led People’s Welfare Front (PWF) on Wednesday to take on J Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK and Karunanidhi’s DMK in the upcoming Tamil Nadu assembly elections.
The alliance also chose actor-turned-politician Vijayakanth as its chief ministerial candidate.
While DMDK will contest on 124 seats, the PWF - a combination of pro-Tamil Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam of Vaiko, Vidhuthalai Chirutaigal Katchi, Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist) - will contest on 110 seats.
The announcement was made by senior leaders of the combine - Vaiko, G Ramakrishnan, Thol Tirumlavalanan, Muttharasan (CPI) and Vijayakanth, who held a signed document for the cameras at the DMDK party headquarters.
“Without going to any other party, I have gone to the people’s party - PWF. Also, my cadres and people at large wanted me to be the king. All the alliance partners have asked me to be the chief ministerial candidate,” Vijayakant told reporters.
“I am bowing to the wishes of the people,” he said.
The agreement to contest the assembly elections together was reached after several rounds of talks between the leaders of the political formations.
MDMK general secretary Vaiko, CPM state secretary G Ramakrishnan and VCK leader Thol Tirumavalanan met Vijayakanth at his residence for final talks during they decided to contest the polls together.
Vijayakanth, who is called Captain by his fans, has been at the forefront of a campaign to oust both the Dravidian parties, which he has described as corrupt and wanted to emerge as the third viable alternative.
Vaiko had previously made it clear that the PWF had no objections to Vijayakanth as the chief ministerial face of the alliance during campaigning.
The announcement came hours before Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah is set to arrive in Chennai to deliberate on his party’s election strategy.
The formation of the DMDK-PWF alliance has made the elections more interesting by turning the contest into a multi-cornered one with AIADMK, DMK-Congress, BJP’s NDA and even the PMK in the fray.
The BJP is expected to tie up with PMK, whose leader Anbumani Ramadoss is already projecting himself as the chief ministerial candidate.
The BJP was in talks with Vijayakanth for continuing the alliance that the two parties formed during the 2014 general elections, but Vijayakanth had played hard to get.
The saffron party criticised the development, with senior party leader and Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan saying “it is an anti-people alliance and one that will be of no consequence in the polls.”
“Our state president had announced yesterday (Tuesday) that we will contest all the 234 seats.”
The BJP too maintains it is against the AIADMK and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam that it alleges has ruined Tamil Nadu and declared that it would present an alternative, along with other regional parties.
But so far, no regional party has joined the NDA, including its own former allies Pattali Makkal Katchi, leaving the BJP high and dry.
The DMK too was wooing the DMDK, and at one point of time, the party had been confident of forming an alliance with Vijayakanth’s party. DMK president M Karunanidhi had said on Monday that he was still hopeful of a DMK-DMDK tie-up to take on the AIADMK.
Karunanidhi’s remark came a day after the DMDK president took to Facebook to appeal to voters not to vote for the AIADMK or the DMK and end the close to 50-year rule of the Dravidian parties.
The DMK’s treasurer and former deputy chief minister MK Stalin said that the alliance will make no difference to the DMK.
“We are going ahead with our campaign and the DMDK-PWF alliance will not have any impact on our party. We are concentrating on our work,” he said.
The AIADMK dismissed the alliance as an internal decision of the parties and said it was not bothered about what the other parties were doing. Party spokesperson CR Saraswathi said the percentage of votes the alliance would get would be seen after the elections.
She said it must be remembered that Vijayakanth got whatever votes he got only due to his alliance with Amma, adding “the AIADMK will win comfortably”.