The DMDK leader, Vijayakanth, has to make up his mind quickly over which direction his party should take in Tamil Nadu.
Having parted ways with the ruling AIADMK, despite their alliance sweeping the polls in the 2011 Assembly elections, Vijayakanth stands isolated. An accidental meeting with DMK leader M K Stalin at the airport set tongues wagging. But there was no change in the DMDK’s hostility towards former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi and his party, going by Vijayakanth’s criticism of the DMK’s stand on Sri Lanka.
This, despite the DMK boycotting the Sankarankoil by-election and leaving the field clear for the DMDK to oppose the AIADMK. However, the voting trends did not indicate any consolidation of the opposition vote block, indicating that the DMK did not throw its weight behind the DMDK candidate.
On the other hand, Vijayakanth indicated which way he could lean by attending the death anniversary of Congress leader G K Moopanar a few days ago. Union Shipping Minister and Moopanar’s son , G K Vasan spent some time with Vijayakanth at the venue, and soon there was a buzz in the political circles and the media.
DMDK sources admit that Vijayakanth is in a dilemma. He wants to teach the AIADMK a lesson for what the party called an insult to its leader. There is no question of going back to the AIADMK-led front. Moving to the DMK-led front would be like swallowing a bitter pill for the actor. In fact, sources close to him point out that he had always been more critical of the DMK than the AIADMK.
The problem for Vijayakanth is his dream of leading his party to power and becoming the Chief Minister at least in 2016. Staying with the AIADMK would not help him and this is why he took on the role of an adversary, working like an opposition party. This lead to Amma showing him the door. An alliance with the DMK would mean giving up his dream since he would have to work for the DMK’s return to power. Therefore, he would have to stand on his own legs and work to increase his support base, and try to overtake the AIADMK and the DMK.
However, in reality that would not be easy. He now realizes that he would have to look for other allies with whom he can work. That probably explains his association with the Congress at Moopanar’s death anniversary. He could build an axis with the Congress and a few other parties in tow. But for that the Congress should be ready to give up its ties with the DMK. There is a view in some sections of the Congress that the DMK could jettison it and go in for new allies like the DMDK and the Left. Vijayakanth’s public display of his warmth towards Vasan has put paid to the DMK’s hopes, according to political observers. Sources in the DMK said they could suggest an alternative to the DMDK in case he is unwilling to enter into a formal alliance with the DMK. The Congress could be provided with X number of seats, and the national party in turn could set apart a quota within its quota for the DMDK.
That way, Vijayakanth’s ties would be directly with the Congress and not with the DMK. Such an arrangement could be tested during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The Congress would welcome such an arrangement as it could strength the DMK-led front. DMK sources feel that if Vijayakanth contests alone, that would put the AIADMK and the DMK-led fronts on an equal pedestal in a general election. On the other hand, if Vijayakanth is part of a seat adjustment, that would be a windfall gain, and would even give an edge to the DMK-led front, DMK sources believe. This would not be easy, as there could be hard bargaining over the number of seats for the Congress and the DMDK.
Vijayakanth is thus at the crossroads having to dilute his anti-DMK stand, and make peace even if it means a seat adjustment process. He has to strike a bargain with the Congress and hope that the national party would take care of his interests. There are sections in the Congress who believe that they could go an extra mile to bring in Vijayakanth for the Lok Sabha polls, while giving him the freedom to take an independent stand for the 2016 Assembly elections. They point out that Chiranjeevi in Andhra Pradesh had taken such a practical decision. The Chiranjeevi example is now being offered to Vijayakanth, though not in the form of a merger but a seat adjustment process. It is now up to the actor to demonstrate whether he can take a pragmatic decision or stick to his guns irrespective of electoral reverses. Especially since some of his MLAs are reportedly looking at the option of deserting him and joining the AIADMK. Will Vijayakanth cut his losses and look at the possibility of making some gains, is the question.