There was both a stated agenda and an unstated one as AIADMK chief J Jayalalitha fasted to express her concern for the Sri Lankan Tamils.
The stated one was apparent enough in the speeches made at the venue: an effort to pressure the central government to do more to protect the Sri Lankan Tamils facing the brunt of the Sri Lankan army.
The unstated one was to strengthen the AIADMK alliance by weaning away the PMK, which too fervently backs the Lankan Tamil cause.
It is currently part of the DMK-led alliance ruling the state, but is having second thoughts about continuing in it. All the breast beating about the plight of Lankan Tamils from the podium had an entirely different, short-term intention behind it — winning the Lok Sabha polls in the state.
Ultimately PMK chief S. Ramadoss did not turn up outside the Chepauk on Monday, which many had been expecting and which would have symbolised his crossing over. But he had made a statement commending her decision to fast a day earlier.
“There is time yet. Elections in Tamil Nadu are on May 13,” said an AIADMK MP, unwilling to be quoted.
Sources close to the PMK hinted that while Ramadoss sees the DMK fast losing support and would like to team up with the AIADMK, his son Anbumani, Union Health Minister, does not want to upset the Congress, which is also part of the DMK alliance, by walking out.
What Jayalalitha’s effort does show, however, is that the PMK is emerging as a key factor in Tamil Nadu. The second crucial element in determining the result is likely to be actor Vijayakanth’s DMDK.
The PMK has a consolidated vote bank among the 17-per-cent-strong Vanniyars, a community with presence in the north and central districts.
“Ramadoss is bargaining hard with us,” revealed a DMK leader. “He says the AIADMK is offering him seven seats. He wants us to give him eight seats, plus a Rajya Sabha berth for his son.”