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Vijayakanth emerges trusted BJP ally

Chennai, May 25: Vijayakanth has emerged as the BJP’s most steadfast ally from Tamil Nadu with Vaiko back in protest mode and the PMK likely to be equally peeved if denied a cabinet berth for Anbumani Ramadoss.

Unlike the other two allies, Vijayakanth has not faulted the invitation extended to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Narendra Modi’s swearing-in tomorrow.

He justified it on the ground that Rajapaksa had been invited along with other Saarc leaders. “Only if he alone had been invited could there have been any room for objection,” Vijayakanth explained, adding that he would attend the swearing-in.

Vaiko has again lived up to his reputation of being a one-agenda politician by planning a black-flag demonstration at Jantar Mantar on Monday in protest against the invite to Rajapaksa.

“He could have merely registered his opposition and stayed away from the ceremony. By holding a demonstration in Delhi on the day of the swearing-in, he has hurt lakhs of BJP workers across the country who are celebrating the special event,” said a senior BJP functionary from Tamil Nadu.

State BJP leaders felt that Vaiko might have frittered away any goodwill that he shared with the BJP’s central leadership. “Unfortunately, he can look at every issue only through the prism of the Sri Lankan Tamil issue, which is why he has found himself marginalised in election after election. What is he going to gain out of Monday’s protests? Brag that he protested wherever Rajapaksa went in India? It is unlikely if even his inputs on Lanka would be welcome any longer by the BJP’s nominee in the external affairs ministry,” said a state BJP leader.

Vaiko’s supporters argue that his vehement opposition to Rajapaksa is well-established and known to BJP leaders. “It need not change just because a political ally is cozying up to Rajapaksa. Vaiko is only echoing the feelings of Tamils in his state. So are all the major political parties in Tamil Nadu,” said Mallai Sathya, a senior MDMK functionary.

The PMK, whose leaders are attending the ceremony after opposing Rajapaksa’s participation, can up their ante if Ramadoss is not included in the cabinet. A CBI trial against Ramadoss in a corruption case is hampering his induction. Although the PMK leader has been assured that he would be taken in once he is acquitted by a court, whose verdict is expected in July, Vijayakanth’s proximity to Modi could influence that decision, party leaders apprehend.

“If Modi inducts Vijayakanth’s wife Premalatha or brother-in-law Sutheesh on Monday and not Ramadoss, it would hurt our image badly since we are the only other victorious NDA candidate from the state after the BJP’s state chief Pon. Radhakrishnan,” a PMK leader pointed out.

Since the PMK failed to transfer its votes to DMDK candidates in the Lok Sabha elections, Vijayakanth is unlikely to trust the PMK for the 2016 Assembly elections. That could see the DMDK firmly entrenched in the NDA even as Vaiko pursues his pet agenda on Lanka and Ramadoss seeks to consolidate his Vanniyar vote base on his own or in the company of the DMK.