Warhorse Win ?
like Vaiko to be defensive. Opportunistic alliance with Jaya? So what?
He’s busy catching the DMK napping with his aggressive rhetoric.
But will that translate into votes, asks PC Vinoj Kumar
There was an air of
curiosity when Vaiko joined hands with his archrival Jayalalithaa, as
to how he will justify his decision. But the leader of the Marumalarchi
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) seems to have decided to overcome this
by his aggressive campaigning espousing the adage ‘attack is the
best form of defence’. Having hit the campaign trail, he has picked
on the DMK triumvirate of M. Karunanidhi, MK Stalin, and Dayanidhi Maran,
with such ferocity that Jayalalithaa has dropped anchor. In her election
speeches, Jayalalithaa is not talking of her opponents, but seeking votes
based on the performance of her government. Free textbooks and bicycles
for school children, free power to the poor, efficient distribution of
relief during tsunami and floods, no hike in bus fare despite the hike
in diesel prices, end of Veerappan, promotion of women’s self-help
groups, the list goes on and on.
strategy to attack Karunanidhi rather than
defend his alliance with Jayalalithaa has effectively eclipsed
all debate. The slew of charges he is hurling at
the Karunanidhi family has rattled the DMK
Vaiko’s supporters are pleased with the way he has handled his party’s
alliance with the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIAMDMK).
Critics had dubbed the alliance as opportunistic. Vaiko’s bitter
rivalry with Jayalalithaa was well-known. The AIAMDMK government had detained
him under pota in July 2002 for an alleged pro-ltte speech. Jayalalithaa
had even said her government would take steps to get the MDMK banned.
Vaiko had then vowed to bring down the ‘fascist rule’ of Jayalalithaa
with the support of people of the state. The party still proudly proclaims
on its website, “This MDMK leader (Vaiko) was the first political
leader, to declare that if voted to power, his government would seize
the properties and assets of the AIAMDMK Chief Minister (Jayalalithaa)
and other ministers.”
Vaiko had to come up with a convincing argument to justify his volte-face.
He attacked Karunanidhi, whom he till recently described as thalaivar
(leader), and annan (elder brother), accusing him to be the mascot of
‘family politics’ in the state and ‘dynastic politics’,
which figures in the party’s election manifesto as well. Vaiko’s
strategy to attack Karunanidhi rather than defend his alliance with Jayalalithaa
has effectively eclipsed all debate and discussion over his party’s
alliance with the AIAMDMK.
The slew of charges he is hurling against the Karunanidhi family has rattled
the DMK. At election rallies Vaiko tells people that the choice before
them in the forthcoming elections is either dominance of a family or welfare
of the state. “Karunanidhi works for the welfare of his family.
We are concerned about the progress of the state,” Vaiko states
The Maran family’s Sun TV comes under fire. “The Sun Network
has amassed wealth to the tune of over Rs 10,000 crore,” Vaiko tells
people that even the DMK’s promise to provide a colour TV to every
family if voted to power is linked to expand the viewership-base of Sun
Network so that “Karunanidhi’s family can steeply revise their
advertisement tariff.” He accuses the DMK of having bagged more
representation in the Union Cabinet using the strength of the four mps
from MDMK, who have not joined the government. He said in an interview
that the DMK had got “so many ministerial berths counting the MDMK
seats as well. When I met Sonia Gandhi, she also said that the impression
she got from the DMK was that MDMK was within the DMK — that is,
an alliance within an alliance.”
Vaiko compares his expulsion from the DMK with that of MGR in 1972. While
MGR was expelled for the sake of MK Muthu, the elder son of Karunanidhi,
who was promoted as a rival to MGR in films, he was shown the door to
make way for Stalin’s political coronation. Vaiko cites the appointment
of Dayanidhi Maran, Karunanidhi’s grandnephew, as Union minister,
as an example of how the DMK chief promotes his family at the expense
of senior party members. Maran, son of Karunanidhi’s nephew the
late Murasoli Maran, joined the party ahead of the 2004 Lok Sabha elections,
and was elected from the Central Chennai constituency.
to raise a debate on the ‘domination’ of Karunanidhi’s
family appears to be working. The harried DMK thinktank and Sun TV has
been forced to respond to his allegations. A recent Sun TV news bulletin
issued a point-to-point counter to Vaiko’s allegations against the
monopoly of Sun Network in the media. Karunanidhi at a meeting advised
his party’s election spokesmen not to target Vaiko, but to go after
Jayalalithaa and urge people to put an end to her ‘autocratic rule’.
For Vaiko and MDMK,
the party he founded, this will be a crucial election. The party is contesting 35 seats and hopes
to win a sizeable number. Vaiko, contrary to expectations, has chosen not to contest
Karunanidhi backtracked on that when he reacted to Vaiko’s charge
that he was furthering his family interests. “Those who have a family
will naturally nurture it,” he responded. Then came Maran’s
legal notice to Vaiko for the allegations he had levelled against the
Sun Network. Vaiko was asked to apologise within 24 hours for his remarks
or face legal action. It only fuelled Vaiko’s rhetoric.
Addressing an election meeting at Usilampatti, Vaiko challenged Maran
to file the case against him, stating that he would fight the case himself
without a lawyer. Vaiko reportedly said, “This Vaiko will even offer
his head to the hangman but will never bow down in apology.” He
also said he would examine Maran in the witness box and “at that
time a thousand secrets will come out tearing through an iron curtain.”
For Vaiko and the party he founded, this will be a crucial election. The
party is contesting 35 seats and hopes to win a sizeable number. Vaiko,
contrary to expectations, has chosen not to contest. The MDMK had failed
in its previous two attempts to enter the state Assembly in the 1996 and
2001 elections, though its members have been elected to the Lok Sabha
in 1998, 1999, and 2004. The MDMK was formed in 1994 after Vaiko was expelled
from the DMK in 1993. It fought the 1996 general elections along with
CPM and Janata Dal, but lost badly.
In that election, the DMK—Tamil Maanila Congress alliance swept
the polls, defeating the AIAMDMK alliance. Vaiko contested from both Vilathikulam
assembly seat and Sivakasi parliamentary constituency, but could win neither.
The defeat in the 1996 elections shook the party’s confidence that
it could offer itself as an alternative to the DMK and AIAMDMK in the
state. In the 1998 parliamentary elections, it aligned with the BJP and
the AIAMDMK. After Jayalalithaa pulled down the Vajpayee government, circumstances
forced Vaiko to shake hands with Karunanidhi. The DMK had become part
of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance following the exit of the
AIAMDMK. In the 2001 Assembly elections, MDMK left the DMK-led alliance
not satisfied with the seats allotted to it and contested alone polling
over 13.4 lakh votes — about 4.65 percent votes.
The party was pushed to the point of despondency when it bit the dust
in the May 2002 by-elections to the Saidapet and Vaniyambadi Assembly
seats. MDMK got a meagre 2,200 votes in Saidapet and about 3,500 votes
in Vaniyambadi. Analysts were writing Vaiko’s political epitaph,
when pota was invoked against him in July that year. Though Vaiko’s
arrest enraged the rank and file of the party, many saw it as a blessing
Vaiko, a postgraduate in Economics, studied law at the Madras Law College.
As a student, he took part in anti-Hindi agitation, and got the best orator
award in 1969 at Law College.
As a Rajya Sabha member between 1978-96, and a two-term Lok Sabha member
between 1998-2004, he has served as a member of various parliamentary
committees. He encounters the struggles in life deriving inspiration from
Shakespeare’s immortal line: ‘Sweet are the uses of adversity.’
“Keeping this saying in mind, I meet the countless struggles of
life,” he writes in his book From the portals of a prison.
Vaiko is a voracious reader. His political speeches are spiced with anecdotes
from the lives of world leaders. He can speak on any topic, if he is intimated
in advance. He is at his fiery best when he talks about the Tamils in
Sri Lanka. With all his inconsistencies, he has not wavered on the issue
of Tamils in Sri Lanka.
He believes that a solution to the ethnic problem lies in the formation
of Tamil Eelam. This is also a part of his party’s manifesto too.
15 , 2006