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Jayalalithaa- Vijayakant Spat Fallout

Sunday March 11, 2012 11:09:22 PM, Syed Ali Mujtaba,

Marriage and divorce are not uncommon in general life and so is the case in the political arena. The latest example of political breakup is from Tamil Nadu. The parties involved are AIDMK and DMDK that had a pre poll alliance and the post poll breakup. Tamil Nadu saw a regime change in May 16, 2011, when the ruling DMK got a drubbing.

Shortly after assuming office as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa, dumped her alliance partner actor Vijayakant, the DMDK chief for the local body elections, indicating that his usefulness was not needed beyond the Assembly elections.

This was because the AIADMK party alone secured a simple majority winning 150 seats and did not need the support of its coalition partners to form the government.

Vijayakanthís DMDK secured 29 seats, more than the 23 seats won by the ruling DMK and opted to serve as the opposition party in the state assembly.

Itís since then that the spat between AIADMK supremo Jayalalitha and DMDK Chief Vijayakant started to surface. The two short fuse personalities with huge egos made the state assembly as the battle ground to score some brownie points.

In one such occasion the assembly witnessed heated exchange of words between Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and DMDK chief Vijayakanth. Both, confronting each other, over their political bonding forged during the Assembly polls.

While Vijayakanth shot at Jayalalithaa that her party would not have come to power in Tamil Nadu without the help of his party. To this, Jayalalithaa slammed her former electoral partner, saying she regretted "joining hands" with the DMDK for the assembly elections.

The fiery argument broke out when a DMDK member criticized the government for the bus fare and milk price hike. Both Jayalithaa and Vijayakanth confronted each other and tempers ran high on the floor of the house.

Vijayakanth told that the AIADMK had failed to win a single by election when the DMK was in power; to this Jayalalithaa openly challenged him to face her party in the forth coming by-polls without any alliance.

In this exchange of words Vijayakant, the actor turned politicians made some rude gestures at the Chief Minister that drew a strong reaction from Jayalalithaa. She dubbed his act as "obnoxious."

This drama culminated in the eviction of all the members of the DMDK, including Vijayakant. The matter was referred it to the privilege committee that suspended and Vijayakanth from attending the assembly session for 10 days.

The Jayalalithaa Vijayakant spat throw some important nuggets that may have bearing on the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. As these events unfold, it may become the deciding factor in the government formation on the national scene after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Itís obvious that the AIADMK will follow the go-it-alone policy, maybe with a few minor allies who may not seek seats. Jayalalithaaís calculation is based on the fact that the anti-AIADMK votes would get divided between the DMK-Congress and the DMDK.

However, her calculation may get upset if DMDK join the DMK bandwagon after reaching an understanding with the Congress. In that case, it could lead to the consolidation of the anti-AIADMK votes.

Vijayakant knows that his party has ten percent share of votes in Tamil Nadu and converting such votes into seats is only possible through a strong alliance. And in such case DMK becomes its natural ally.

However, the question is, will the DMK allow the DMDK in its fold? On the surface, there may be smiles in the DMK camp because of the AIADMK-DMDK split, but in real terms it faces a huge moral dilemma.

The option before the DMK is either to take the DMDK in its folds and forge a formidable front to take on the ruling AIADMK in the Lok Sabha polls. The party is already stained in the spectrum scam and bruised at the assembly poll; such a move alone can ensure a respectable victory at the general election.

However, the DMK knows well what this would mean the party. In the Assembly election the DMDK won 29 seats out of 41 it contested only because the AIADMK alliance.

If the DMK- DMDK alliance materializes, itís the DMDK that would be benefitting and may corner few seats in the Lok Sabha. Will the DMK allow this to happen?

If the answer is no, the DMK then have no other go to contest against the DMDK. The party has to rework its way for the recognition as the main campaigner against the AIADMK government.

Tamil Nadu has 39 Lok Sabha seats and in the 2009 general election, DMK bagged 18 seats, AIADMK 9, the Congress 8, the MDMK, CPM, CPI, VCK, one each.

The two dominant political formations the AIDMK and DMK always vie for cornering maximum number of seats. This is because the numbers makes a difference in the larger alliance formation at the national level.

If the NDA has to form the government, then Jayalalithaa has to deliver 20 plus seats, same holds true for the UPA- DMK alliance to stay in course/

Its early days now but the contours of national politics are being firmed up after the elections being held in the five states.

The BJP has already courting the AIADMK and several of its top leaders have met the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister for discussing electoral alliance.

Itís probably the same alliance partners that would constitute the NDA and UPA formations. The AIADMK, in the NDA and the DMK in the UPA will be the pivots in that alliance.

There is also a tradition in Tamil Nadu that the assembly and Lok sabha verdicts are always opposite. If that is the case, then itís the DMK that has the advantage over the AIADMK and by that token, the UPA has an edge over the NDA.

In such backdrop itís a difficult call for both the DMK and DMDK to make. In all probability, Vijaykant may go alone or may get few difficult seats, if he joins the DMK front.

The DMDK factor in Tamil politics has definitely come into the reckoning with its supremo Vijayakant leading from the front and definitely has hi eyes set on Lok Sabha elections as well. As there is still lot of time left for the next general elections one has to watch how this story plays itself out.


Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at




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