Vaiko - A Spent Force?
This blog is written by my friend and fellow blogger Mani Ramanathan and is third in the series of four he will be writing on the double standards of the political leaders from his home state of Tamil Nadu. Here he is analyzing Vaiko– the chief of MDMK.( Part 1 Karunanidhi; Part 2 Dr Ramadoss)
In a decade and a half long period, Mr. Vaiko could only turn himself a force that has not only lost its mass and momentum but also continue to lose them much faster than ever! He is an utter failure at his extreme ideologies as well as his ideologies of extremism. When he stepped out of DMK in early 90s with more than half the party rallying behind him, political analysts and the common public could not resist drawing a parallel to the more dramatic ousting of the legendary MGR from the same party in the 70s. Many had predicted that he was unequivocally going to script the sequel to the political hiatus of Mr. Karunanidhi originally written by MGR. But what the history has turned out to be is the complete reversal of the future that was predicted then.
He comes across very gullible in the vicinity of guile and treachery due to his lack of political astuteness. He fails to capitalize many opportunities that has come his way. One such opportunity was when he decided to support the NDA from outside and not to take part of the government headed by Dr. Manmohan Singh in the last election. His move surprised many political observers in Tamil Nadu. When PMK - another prominent party of UPA alliance in Tamil Nadu in 2004 - squeezed the maximum by snatching two of the important cabinet positions - health and railways, he certainly missed out the opportunity. It was an opportunity for him is that MDMK were clearly struggling to grow and going were getting tougher for its party men because of the party's lack of significant electoral success until then.
In the last five years, MDMK has lost more mass as many of its front-runners deserted the party and joined the rival DMK. More than a handful of political observers in TN agree that Mr. Vaiko's strategic mistake in the aftermath of last election is the main reason for the party's loss of weight in recent times. His controversial stand on the on-going issue of Srilankan Tamils and his unconditional support for LTTE head Prabhakaran has drawn strong criticism from many quadrants of Indian politics. Due to this questionable stand, he also led his own way to get arrested under POTA and lost very valuable two years during a critical stage of his party's growth period. He does not seem to get any softer as his speeches during the current election campaign continues to be full of heat, rage and provoke alluding to the Srilankan crisis. These behaviors only project himself an activist rather than a political leader.
He also lacks an emotional intelligence - an important quality needed in a political leader. Many political analysts feel he should have been quieter for some more time and waited for the right opportunity by staying back in DMK despite the inconveniences caused in the party. He had then grown so popular in DMK and seen as a protégé of the DMK party leader. His lack of emotional intelligence catalyzed the proceedings and led his premature ejection off the party. In a reasonably hypothetical situation, he could have been in a better position in DMK to try his chance today.
During the last assembly elections in TN, he had just come out of the prison serving a two-year term under POTA, enforced upon him by Jayalalitha. Mr. Karunanidhi had come to his rescue and bailed him out. The assembly election was a decisive moment for Mr. Vaiko and his party because the party badly needed a win in the election to overcome the damage created by his arrest. He flopped again emotionally when he ended the negotiations with DMK unsuccessfully, for want of just one more seat. He also forced himself to form an alliance with Jayalalitha - the same person who put him behind the bars. Many ridiculed his political immaturity and his poor negotiation skills. DMK won the election while MDMK faced another setback due to the misguidance of its leader.
Despite all these shortcomings, Mr. Vaiko is known to be highly disciplined individual with a clean personal life. He is also very consistent with his stands, particularly in the Srilankan issue, however controversial it may be. He is also seen to be a loyalist by his political allies in a time when day-traders call the shots. But many doubt if he has still any time left to transform himself, a disciplined activist, into a successful political leader.