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Tamil heavyweights woo a wavering Vijaykanth

Tamil heavyweights woo a wavering Vijaykanth
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First Published: Wed, Mar 25 2009. 11 07 PM IST

Updated: Wed, Mar 25 2009. 11 07 PM IST
Chennai: Tamil Nadu’s Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), being wooed by all major political parties in the state as they race to form alliances, could emerge as the classic spoiler, analysts said.
Formed by cine star Vijaykanth Naidu, DMDK contested the 2006 state assembly elections and managed to corner 8.33% of the votes. It also won from a lone seat in Virudanagar, which Vijaykanth contested.
The Democratic Progressive Alliance, which swept the polls in the last general election in 2004 and includes the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Congress party, is openly wooing Vijaykanth, especially after the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), a party with strong support from the Vanniyar community, withdrew from the formation.
Tamil Nadu sends 39 members to the Lok Sabha, elections for which have been scheduled in phases from 16 April-13 May.
“Congress and DMK leaders have started feeling the fear of anti-incumbency because of reasons like inflation. Vijaykanth is expected to bring anywhere between 5% and 10% votes,” says Cho S. Ramaswamy, political analyst and editor of Thughlak magazine. “He’ll be a spoiler. He will lose money in all constituencies but he will be an effective spoiler.”
DMK’s traditional rival All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) has, however, been more cautious in approaching Vijaykanth, perhaps because the actor projects himself as Karuppu MGR (black MGR), associating himself with the late M.G. Ramachandran, the former Tamil Nadu chief minister and superstar who founded AIADMK, now led by J. Jayalalithaa.
Kingmaker? Actor-turned-politician Vijaykanth.
“In 2006 assembly elections, he (Vijaykanth) crossed the 8% threshold (in votes cast), which is why he gains importance in the coming elections,” says Krishna Anand, another Chennai-based political commentator. “But this 8% was probably that section of people who did not want to vote for either DMK or AIADMK.”
Anand says DMDK’s main appeal is to the younger generation, aged 20-23 years, who don’t want to be identified with the formations led by either DMK or AIADMK.
DMDK’s role of being a spolier that can decide which alliance wins makes Vijaykanth valuable. For now, the party is playing safe. “We will decide in the next three-four days,” said L.K. Sudheesh, DMDK spokesperson and Vijaykanth’s brother-in-law, when asked which party it will align with. The actor has hinted in public meetings that DMDK might contest on its own.
Anand says the 2011 state assembly polls is the real DMDK target, as Vijaykanth aspires to become chief minister. He adds that the party might lose its 8% vote share if it aligns with either of the two alliances.
“Especially those who belong to the middle class might not want to vote for DMDK if he aligns with either of the parties. So, the 8% factor has to be taken in with that kind of a qualification,” Anand says.
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First Published: Wed, Mar 25 2009. 11 07 PM IST