Vijayakanth, who got carried away with the 10.33 per cent votes that he got in the 2006 assembly elections is now eating humble pie. Granted, it was his party’s (DMDK) extraordinary showing – he even became an MLA – that had made him talk in terms of becoming the CM after the 2011 elections. But his party is losing ground and evidence of that are the consecutive losses in the by-elections and the Lok Sabha polls last May, where many of his candidates lost their deposits. The gathering defections by second rank leaders from his party too have brought him down to earth. After he realized that flying solo – when he rejected all the overtures he got from various political parties including the DMK which is riding high as assembly election 2011 comes near – was causing him to lose all the goodwill he collected. The same man who asked why did he need an alliance when he already has one with the people is now singing another tune. He says he’s ready for a tie-up if people want it. And Vijayakanth’s reality check comes after another poor performance in the recent by-elections at Tiruchendur and Vandavasi.
The horse, the stable
Ever since he floated the DMDK (Desiya Murpoku Dravida Kazhagam) in 2005, Vijayakanth’s stand was that he was not interested in any alliance with any party as he wanted to provide an alternative to the two Dravidian parties – the DMK and the AIADMK. The youth did gravitate towards him but by cutting into AIADMK votes mainly, he ended up playing spoiler and his detractors would say he actually helped the DMK win many seats in the Lok Sabha poll. Recently, he said, “Karunanidhi says the DMDK has lost its strength. But DMDK is still strong.” Is it? Or has the DMDK slowly lost the sheen of a winner? So even if he wants friends, will he get them? For instance, the Congress, which had assiduously wooed him before the Lok Sabha elections, is now saying the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee is not excited about an alliance with him. TNCC president K V Thangkabalu on Sunday snubbed the ‘Captain’ – the nickname he has acquired after playing that role in one of his popular films – when asked about Vijayakanth’s party deciding to tie-up with allies. “There is no need to attach so much importance and talk a lot about a party that is losing.” Ouch.
What would Amma say?
Vijayakanth called the DMK a “fraud” party (thillu mullu katchi) at the DMDK’s general council meeting last week where a resolution was passed to ratify the party’s decision to look for like-minded allies. But Thangkabalu has made it clear, “Kalaignar (DMK president M Karunanidhi) is the leader of the alliance in the state. Therefore, any decision relating to the inclusion of a newcomer in the alliance has to be decided by him.”
So one can rule out the DMK or Congress as a potential partner at the moment. That leaves the AIADMK, a bitter foe considering that the DMDK’s presence in the election fray has taken away votes from AIADMK. Besides Jayalalitha (who once called Vijayakanth a drunkard) and Vijayakanth have traded insults bordering on the personal. “But politics is the art of the possible. We don’t rule out an alliance with the AIADMK in future,” says a DMDK leader. However, Vijayakanth has made it clear that he’s after the CM’s throne and his volte face that signalled his willingness to have an alliance is clearly aimed at making that dream come true. Will Amma, who has had two terms as the CM, stand for it?
TN’s top cop
Tamil Nadu which is a progressive state at many levels has just got its first woman Director General of Police in Letika Saran. She was also the first woman Chennai police commissioner. Saran, who will turn 58 on March 1, and was elevated as DGP last September, was head of the training division. She has served in various positions, including in the crime branch and as the head of the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau.
But rarely do officials who are at the top go in the natural course. In this case Letika’s predecessor K P Jain (who took over as DGP in March 2008) was due to retire in three months but has opted to go on leave prompting one to recall Home Minister P Chidambaram’s famous words about babus being kicked around like footballs. There are whispers about the ruling government not being happy with Jain’s role in the recent Tiruchendur by-elections where the DMK unleashed a mix of money and muscle power to win. According to a senior police official, “Jain opted to go on leave as he was feeling stifled. It is a fallout of groupism within the force. Jain was never attached to any group. He always went by his own judgment which made some officials uncomfortable and they used to carry tales about him.”
The classic example of DGPs being shunted is the one about A X Alexander who had a Siberia posting to beat all Siberia postings. During the AIADMK regime he ended up heading the Mandapam refugee camp, a post usually held by a head constable. However, by January 2005, CM Jayalalitha appointed him as DGP (law and order). But more humiliation was in store for Alexander who was shunted out of this post after the DMK came to power in 2006. This despite the fact that he had only 18 days to go before retirement!