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Vijaykant - the black MGR of Tamil Nadu politics

india Updated: May 04, 2009 08:31 IST

IANS
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Tamil movie hero turned politician Vijaykant is known to have performed stunts in films without a duplicate. In these Lok Sabha polls too, he and his party DMDK are going solo. And all eyes are on the 56-year-old man known as "Karuppu (Black) MGR".

Political circles are debating the impact of the 'V' (Vijaykant) factor on their fortunes. Balloting will be held for all 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu on May 13.

The DMDK is hoping to increase its vote share to 20 percent in this ballot, up from the 8.3 percent it got in the 2006 assembly elections, the DMDK's K Pandiarajan told IANS.

Can Vijaykant repeat what hero turned politician M.G. Ramachandran (MGR) achieved in the 1970s and 1980s? MGR, who founded the AIADMK in 1972, was the first Indian film hero to get elected as chief minister (in 1977), sowing political ambitions in several movie stars across the country.

However it was only N.T. Rama Rao (NTR) in Andhra Pradesh who was able to match MGR in floating a new party and capturing power.

Comparing Vijaykant with MGR, a leader of a national party said on condition of anonymity "Vijaykant is attracting MGR's vote base - Dalits, youth and the middle class. Today the middle class is divided among the DMK, the Congress and the AIADMK. The DMDK may get around 100,000 votes in each constituency. It will be interesting whose vote the DMDK would eat into - the DMK's or the AIADMK's."

There are others who say Vijaykant cannot be compared with MGR - as a movie star or even as a politician.

According to them, MGR was the number one hero during his time and most of his movies were great hits. In contrast, Vijaykant, even at his peak, was ranked only after Rajnikanth and Kamal Haasan and not all his movies were blockbusters.

MGR used his movies not only to build an impeccable image for himself but also spread his political message even when he was in the DMK before he launched the AIADMK.

So strong was his appeal that when he was expelled from the DMK in 1972 for asking the party to make its accounts public, people believed him and voted him to power and he ruled for a decade until his death in 1987.

"In those days people were innocent. NTR was considered Vishnu's reincarnation after playing roles like Rama and Krishna. With the advent of satellite channels and the increase in literacy levels, it is very difficult to cultivate that kind of image," said a political activist.

S. Thirunavukarasar, the BJP national secretary and a long time member of the AIADMK, told IANS "MGR was in a different era. When the AIADMK was floated by him, the DMK was the only major force in the state. The Congress didn't have a leader with mass appeal. Today there are several political parties."

Congress MP E.N. Sudarsana Nachiappan said: "Votes for Vijaykant are akin to invalid votes. Only in certain constituencies does his party have chances of getting something near 20 percent votes. The people of Tamil Nadu can differentiate between state and central elections."

Echoing similar views, BJP Tamil Nadu unit president L Ganesan said "He (Vijaykant) is trying to create an impression that he is the alternative to the DMK and the AIADMK. That is a farce."