Battle for Tamil Nadu is getting poised for a keener contest after AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa on Friday managed to rope in film-star turned politician Vijayakant in her bid to stitch up a rainbow alliance to boost her comeback bid.
Jayalalithaa and Vijayakant met for about half an hour at her heavily guarded Poes Gardens residence after which the Desiya Murpoku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) founder made the formal announcement of fighting the April 13 assembly elections for 234 seats together in an alliance with AIADMK. As per the agreement, DMDK would contest in 41 seats.
Vijayakant drove into Jayalaithaa’s residence with his trusted lieutenant Panruti Ramchandran for talks with the AIADMK supremo at 9.15 p.m. and emerged out smiling after about half an hour.
Addressing a very crowded group of press persons outside the Poes Gardens residence, Vijayakant said.
Vijayakant, a popular film hero with a strong following among youth and women, floated his political party in 2005 and fought the 2006 assembly elections and 2009 parliamentary polls alone and garnered a vote share of 8.4 % and 10.1 % and had played the spoilsport in both the AIADMK.
In the 2006 assembly elections he cut into AIADMK votes and damaged that party’s chances in about 80 constituencies. The DMK led alliance together polled 44.5% and the AIADMK formation got 40.52% of the vote. And if Vijayakant’s share of 8.4 % is added, then the outcome may well could have swung the other way.
Even in 2009 general elections, DMDK performed well in 135 assembly segments where its vote share was larger than the difference between the winner and the runnersup.
Which is why, Jayalalithaa was keeping her fingers crossed and held back formalizing seat sharing agreements with the Left or the other old time allies till the deal with MDMK was in the bag. Initially, Vijayakant had demanded 90 seats and after several rounds of backroom negotiations between party leaders, the deal finally was clinched at 41 seats. The DMDK also gave up its demand for a share in power.
By roping in the most important ally before the formal signing of DMK-Congress deal, Jayalalithaa has once again shown that her alliances are in place before her opponents.
According to Congress sources here, AICC incharge of Tamil Nadu affairs, Ghulam Nazbi Azad is likely to arrive in Chennai on Saturday when a formal official announcement is expected to made jointly with DMK leadership.
Vijayakant can most easily be considered the game changer, and the alliance with AIADMK surely makes the contest a very close one. This tie up, along with the other alliance partners makes the combination a potent one, said Prof Ramu Manivannan, head of the department, political science and public administration, Madras University.
Vijayakant has had mounted a high decibel campaign across the state vowing to dislodge the DMK regime. Floated in 2005, his party DMDK, contested 232 seats in 2006 assembly polls but could win only one of them. Contesting on its own, however, it managed to secure 8.4% vote.
And in the 2009 parliament elections, it fought in all the seats and failed to open its account, but had increased its vote share to 10.1%. What is significant is that in the parliament elections, in several constituencies it got more votes than the victory margin of the winner over the nearest rival. In most cases, this benefitted the DMK.