In her first interview after the death of her husband, ‘Captain’ Vijayakanth, in December, Premalatha Vijayakanth, who has taken over as the chief of the DMDK, has outlined the party’s stance on potential alliances, electoral strategies, and her vision for the future of Tamil Nadu politics.
Speaking exclusively to NDTV on Wednesday, Ms Vijayakanth asserted that the DMDK (Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam) would consider joining any alliance that is willing to give it 14 Lok Sabha seats and one seat in the Rajya Sabha, the formula it had with the NDA in 2014. She emphasised the party’s flexibility, expressing readiness to collaborate with the ruling DMK, AIADMK, as well as the BJP.
Despite the DMDK cadre expressing a preference to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections independently, citing the huge sympathy wave after Vijayakanth’s death, Ms Vijayakanth underscored the party’s willingness to adapt to the prevailing political landscape.
To a question on whether her party had any problem with the BJP’s Hindutva plank, the DMDK chief said, “Everyone is Hindu only here. What is Hindutva, what is Christianity, what is Muslim (sic). Captain always said there is no religion, no caste, we are all one people. These people, according to their politics, are saying something, but we are very strong. We are all brothers and sisters.”
“We will align with any party that gives us more seats and more respect,” she reiterated.
‘Will Rejuvenate Party’
Asked about being the only woman chief of a political leader in the state currently, Ms Vijayakanth said “I was trained by Captain Vijayakanth. I will rejuvenate the party”. She also asserted that talk of her party losing any support is propaganda and claimed that all of its base is intact.
To a question on whether she, her brother or any of her sons would contest the Lok Sabha polls, Ms Vijayakanth said the decision would be taken at the next meeting.
Ms Vijayakanth now has a large tattoo of her late husband on her right forearm. When the DMDK chief was asked about this, she turned emotional and said, “I got it done on January 31, our wedding anniversary, which was my first without him.”
DMDK has had an interesting political trajectory. Formed in 2005, Vijayakanth was the only winner from the party in the Assembly polls the next year. For the 2011 polls, the actor-turned-politician tied up with AIADMK under Jayalalithaa and won 29 seats. The party’s vote share crossed 10% and Vijayakanth became the Leader of Opposition.
The party’s fortunes declined after Vijayakanth fell out with Jayalalithaa. It fought the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as part of the NDA, but failed to win a single seat, and its vote share was only about 2%.
Now both the AIADMK and its former ally, the BJP, are wooing the DMDK. Despite past political differences, Ms Vijayakanth acknowledged that the ruling DMK had announced that Vijayakanth would be cremated with state honours, while the BJP-led government at the Centre had posthumously conferred the Padma Bhushan upon him