Vijayakant’s struggle to hold on

NAT

In politics, the challenge is not just acquiring power but also retaining it. Actor-turned politician Vijayakant, founder leader of the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), faces the threat of losing the prestigious position of Leader of the Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly within months of having reached there.

Locked in a fierce battle with Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, Vijayakant has been on the defensive ever since four of his MLAs showed definite signs of dissent by calling on Jaya and appreciating her work as CM in the past year and a half. In a political landscape where even charitable comment about rivals is unusual, rumour has it that Jaya's AIADMK is working on a few more.

Significant as it is losing MLAs to the other side, also important was the fact that three of the four MLAs were close to Vijayakant; in fact they owed their candidature purely to their personal equations with him. Among the four is R Sundarrajan, whose friendship with Vijayakant goes back about 50 years when both were children in Madurai. Former treasurer of the party, he produced several of "Captain's" films. The rebels also included producer S Michael Rayappan and actor-producer C Arun Pandian — whose last film as an actor was written, directed, produced and acted in by Vijayakant.

Though the members initially maintained their meetings with the chief minister were non-political, they were given pride of place at a government function a couple of days later besides a separate seating arrangement inside the Assembly, leaving little to the imagination. Pressed with the question of loyalty, they hit back by challenging all 29 members to resign and contest again. During the four-day Assembly session that ended last week, the other DMDK members walked out on two of those days and were involved in verbal exchanges with rivals but these four stayed aloof.

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