King, kingmaker or spoiler? Captain Vijayakanth, who likes to be known as Karuppu MGR or Dark MGR after the legendary MG Ramachandran, could don any of these three roles after the April-May assembly polls in Tamil Nadu.
DMDK leader Vijayakanth was kingmaker in the 2011 elections, winning 29 seats in alliance with chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK. The AIADMK front became unbeatable after he came on board at the eleventh hour and the combine swept the polls.
The DMDK became the second-largest party in the assembly, relegating the DMK to third position.
This time, he has decided to fight it alone. He has refused the M Karunanidhi-led DMK’s offer for an alliance to dethrone former celluloid star and MGR prodigy Jayalalithaa on anti-establishment sentiments.
DMK leader MK Stalin said “his decision will not affect us”, while alliance partner Congress echoed similar sentiments. But the AIADMK is jumping for joy after Vijayakanth spurned the DMK.
“Amma is winning anyway. Last time, Vijayakanth got 29 seats because of his alliance with our party. This time, let’s see how many he gets,” AIADMK spokesperson CR Saraswathi said.
Another party leader said Vijayakanth would “make a difference” to the DMK, not to the AIADMK.
The ruling AIADMK is happy because Vijayakanth’s party will dig into the DMK’s votes. Any situation that splits votes against Jayalalithaa is beneficial to her as the AIADMK, which is trying to fight off anti-incumbency in a state that has a history of voting out the ruling party every election.
The sub-regional party with a less than 8% vote share could still be a lucky charm for Jayalalithaa, who faced public anger over the state’s precarious power situation and her government’s alleged ham-fisted measures in providing relief to millions of people battered by floods last November.
Vijayakanth’s political significance is inversely proportional to his vote percentage because of his remarks to stay away from the two Dravidian parties: the AIADMK and the DMK. The political jostling intensified after Vijayakanth’s wife, Premalatha, invited like-minded parties for an alliance with the DMDK.
Which is why, the BJP and the Peoples Welfare Front, the right and left formations in the fray, are hoping of having him as a partner. Both are prepared to make him the chief-ministerial face of the campaign.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Vijayakanth was allied with the BJP but drifted away thereafter.
State BJP president Tamilisai Soundarrajan gave hints of talks with the DMDK leader.
The fringe players know Vijayakanth cannot win many seats on his own but can spoil chances of either of the two Dravidian parties.
Political analyst Prof Ramu Manivannan said Jayalalithaa has the advantage as of now, unless the Supreme Court verdict in a disproportionate assets case goes against her.