With a huge following, Karunanidhi’s son is on a mission to annihilate the DMK

P Saravanan, a doctor by profession, is in charge of the Tirumangalam region for the MDMK. Party chief Vaiko is contesting from Virudhunagar constituency and as a couple of SUVs whizz past ahead of a Vaiko campaign meet, Saravanan oozes confidence about “a victory by 15,000 votes”.

He confirms that expelled DMK leader MK Alagiri has offered Vaiko his support; “he has great influence in the region, which will help our victory”.

Virudhunagar is a neighbouring constituency of Madurai, an acknowledged Alagiri bastion, and Vaiko, once a staunch lieutenant of DMK chief M Karunanidhi, is also a victim of MK Stalin’s rise in the party.

Close on the heels of Vaiko’s visit, candidates from other parties from Alagiri’s zone of influence came calling for the latter’s support.

BJP’s Sivaganga candidate H Raja was followed by MDMK’s Theni candidate R Azhagusundaram and then Congress candidate from Madurai, Bharat Nachiyappan. Significantly, at her first major rally in Madurai city, AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa trained her arsenal mostly on P Chidambaram and the Congress, totally sparing Alagiri, who was her main target during the 2011 Assembly polls.

After a visit to Chennai following his expulsion, when Alagiri called upon half sister Kanimozhi, he has stopped meeting candidates from rival parties, reportedly on her advice.

“Defeat outsiders”

But that hasn’t stopped him from flaying the DMK for bringing in “outsiders” in southern constituencies.

Training his guns on Ramanathanpuram DMK candidate Mohamed Jaleel, Alagiri said at a recent meet: “When he hasn’t met any party cadres, how can they vote for him?” The present MP, actor JK Ritheesh, is an Alagiri loyalist who did not seek a seat this time. And Alagiri has urged DMK cadres to not just defeat the party’s Theni candidate Pon Muthuramalingam — they should “ensure that he gets the fourth place.”

The burden of Alagiri’s song has been that he doesn’t have to work for the DMK’s defeat as the present leadership is doing that already! Political observers agree that the DMK is indeed in the doghouse and will struggle to get even 3-5 seats against its tally of 18 in 2009.

Target Stalin

Nothing will please Alagiri more than to see younger brother Stalin, who is leading the DMK in this election, fail.

Says a retired professor of sociology, who sees a “Modi wave throughout the country” and predicts 5-7 seats for the NDA in Tamil Nadu, “Even though Alagiri may no longer have huge support, there is a lot of heartburn among the DMK old guard who have been sidelined or ignored by Stalin. For instance, a senior leader like Durai Murugan, whose son was denied ticket, will quietly work to ensure the DMK’s defeat and Stalin’s failure. Politicians know how to slit throats silently.” He predicts only 2-3 seats for the DMK. If that happens, this will be a disastrous election for the party, only a little better than 1991, when the AIADMK-Congress alliance swept all the 39 seats in Tamil Nadu.

It was during campaigning for that election that Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in Sriperumbudur. That election returned 28 Congress MPs from TN. This time “zero” is the prediction for the party.

(This article was published on April 9, 2014)
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