MDMK leader Vaiko might come across as hot-tempered, if one goes by recent reports. He has called his mentor names in public. He screamed at those raising inconvenient questions. Some time ago he asked a team of human rights activists to clear out when they made some remarks critical of his avowed hero Velupillai Prabhakaran. But observers know it is all part of a persona he has assiduously cultivated over the years, to look forbidding. But then he cannot only be ingratiating but is actually lily-livered.
His sudden decision to call it quits from the TN polls in May 2016, citing dastardly attempts to destroy caste harmony in his native constituency, has people in splits everywhere. As a irrepressible Facebook commentator put it in his meme, Vaiko, eyes rolling, despairs, âSuddenly you want me to win. âŚHowâs it possible!â
No one would believe him, that is. The caste bogey is merely a silly excuse, too thin a veil to cover up his cowardice.
On many occasions he has given elections a miss on some unconvincing pretext or other. His electoral record has been most uninspiring, it should be remembered.
In the very first elections he contested, for the Lok Sabha in 1989, against Kalimuthu of the AIADMK, he lost. Again in his first elections as the MDMK founder, he lost in the Assembly elections in his native district of Tirunelveli.
He won twice in Lok Sabha elections, and on both occasions on the strength of his allies - first time the AIADMK and the second time the DMK. That he has been a Rajya Sabha member for three terms doesnât count any way, when we are talking of his electability.
So for all his words of learned length, and thundering sound and his claim to be a true-blue champion of Tamil nationalism, he remains an uncertain quantity in the arena. Clearly then he must have copped out only fearing defeat. No one rates high the chances of the Vijaykanth-led front.
Of course such retreats are not uncommon. Many others have done so in the past. None other than Indira Gandhi thought it wiser not to contest in a by-election in Tamil Nadu when the then Chief Minister MG Ramachandran, under pressure from the Morarji Desai government, went back on his promise to support her. (She had not announced her candidature, but it was put out that she was going to.)
It happens - it is all realpolitik. Only, it jars in the case of Vaiko because of his insufferable posturing.
His expansive gestures and high-pitched rhetoric interspersed with English sentences actually belie his cravenness in the face of personalities who can make or mar his political life.
In 1998, when he had found a place for himself in the Jaya bandwagon, Amma was offended when the audience chanted âVaiko, Vaiko,â at a public meeting. Furiously she chided them to go to Vaikoâs meetings if they wanted to hear him and brusquely walked off.
No one knows how he sought to assuage her wounded ego, but he went ahead with a public meeting she was to address supporting him a couple of days later.
A huge crowd had gathered, lesser speakers had had their say, and Vaiko had to hold fort till the madam arrived. The clock was ticking off, everyone was anxiously craning their necks, turning this way and that, but she was not turning up. She didnât eventually, it was a calculated snub. Vaiko never reacted, but his âhumilityâ paid off and he won.
The very next year when Jayalaltihaa forced mid-term elections, Vaiko thought nothing of going back to Arivayalayam, the DMK headquarters, and make obeisance to the very man he had been reviling all along. Again he won.
Even this time around he went all out to woo Vijaykanth, and, in a fit of excitement, named the alliance the Captainâs front â in honour of the actor-turned-politician, popularly known as Captain among his followers.
But the Left protested, and the nomenclature never took off. Also to be noted is that Vaiko is far too senior to Vijaykanth and even otherwise enjoys a bigger stature, still grovels in desperation â his goal being to deny the DMK victory and forestall chances of Stalinâs becoming Chief Minister. In any case swallowing his pride comes easy for Vaiko.
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