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Vaiko back in the reckoning

MDMK leader Vaiko drew an abysmal blank when his party contested 211 of the 234 seats during the 2001 Tamil Nadu assembly elections. And yet Vaiko and MDMK have suddenly become the most sought after political properties in the run up to this year's Assembly elections.

india Updated: Feb 06, 2006 01:44 IST

MDMK leader Vaiko drew an abysmal blank when his party contested 211 of the 234 seats during the 2001 Tamil Nadu assembly elections. And yet Vaiko and MDMK have suddenly become the most sought after political properties in the run up to this year's Assembly elections.

The DMK, which used to give Vaiko the short shrift compared to its other allies, is working overtime to keep him in its front.

Chief Minister Jayalalihthaa, who jailed Vaiko under Pota for 19 months, has declared that her party is willing to make alliances — a hint that she was not averse to a deal with the MDMK, which is striving to make a debut in the state Assembly after 12 years.

On his part, Vaiko has stoked the fires of uncertainty. He first distanced himself from his statement that making DMK president M. Karunanidhi the next chief minister was his primary task. Vaiko now rarely speaks this line and has said that his party must get a respectable share of seats during elections, a gentle reminder of how the DMK had short-changed him in 2001.

When Vaiko compared his party to the O positive blood group that could be matched with any other blood group, the DMK pressed the panic button. Karunanidhi summoned Vaiko for a one-to-one and to give the appearance that the MDMK was not drifting away.

Vaiko, however, has chosen to hold his counsel. "You will know shortly," was his reaction when contacted.

Vaiko is under tremendous pressure from his junior leaders to aim for the front which gives them the highest number of seats. The MDMK cannot hope to get more than 20 seats in the crowded DMK front, but the AIADMK might be willing to give at least 35.

The MDMK is debating whether it should help Karunanidhi's son M.K. Stalin in becoming the chief minister as the DMK expelled Vaiko in 1993 for opposing Stalin.

MDMK leaders point out that the party on its own had garnered 4.47 per cent of votes in 2001 compared to the PMK, which contested 27 seats and got 5.7 per cent votes. "Since our vote share is spread out evenly across the state, we can bring in the extra 5,000 votes in each Assembly seat so crucial in a close fight. That is why we have become an important factor," said a senior MDMK leader.

To keep pressure on the MDMK, Karunanidhi has called for a meeting of his front leaders on Wendesday to reaffirm their faith in the DMK-led alliance. Vaiko's response could be the most keenly watched political event this week.

First Published: Feb 06, 2006 01:44 IST