DMDK treasurer Premalatha Vijayakant’s fire and brimstone press conference at her party’s headquarters on March 8 seemed to burn many bridges.
She went after the DMK by criticising DMK president MK Stalin and treasurer Durai Murugan. She was abrasive with reporters, often using the informal nee instead of the respectful neengal to address them. At one point, she seemed to threaten to go after the AIADMK by recalling Jayalalithaa’s criticism of DMDK founder Vijayakant ahead of the 2011 Assembly elections.
Then, when it seemed all was lost, she reined herself in: “But, we formed an alliance and the AIADMK came to power; DMDK became the opposition party. Even now, the AIADMK is in power only because of the DMDK.”
The raison d’etre of the press conference was Durai Murugan’s revelation that DMDK deputy general secretary LK Sudhish, Premalatha’s brother, had reached out to him. Sudhish would later accept that he had indeed reached out to Durai Murugan. This was when the DMDK was in talks with the BJP about a seat-sharing deal: it was miffed that the PMK, a fellow partner in the 2014 NDA, was being offered the opportunity to come on board first.
“Durai Murugan continues to claim that we met him seeking seats in their alliance, which is completely untrue,” said Premalatha, who berated the DMK repeatedly for its ‘lack of political decency’. The DMDK has clearly not taken Durai Murugan’s jab on the chin. Its supporters tried to protest before the DMK leader’s Katpadi house on March 8 and had to be removed by the police.
On Friday, Premalatha called the DMK a Thillu Mullu Katchi (party of fraudsters) and then proceeded to hit back by revealing the details of Stalin’s meeting with Vijayakant. She slammed Stalin for having not permitted DMDK leader Vijayakant to meet DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi when the latter was alive.
“When DMK former leader Karunanidhi was admitted to the hospital, Captain was the first person to contact Stalin seeking to meet him. However, Stalin did not give us time till the last minute to meet,” she said.
“As soon as Rajinikanth met Vijayakant on February, Sudhish started receiving calls from the DMK for Stalin to meet Vijayakant,” she said. “However, we graciously gave him time. After meeting the DMDK leader, though Stalin said he inquired only about the health condition of the DMDK leader and there was nothing political, we told reporters that there were political talks as well,” she said.
There was no sheepishness about negotiating with multiple parties at the same time, though. “If there is a girl in the house, obviously 10 people would come to the house seeking a bride. So, if there is a political party, it has to join hands with the other parties to face the election,” she said. The press conference was organised on the sidelines of the DMDK’s International Women’s Day celebrations.
Towards the end of the interaction, it looked like the DMDK has no option but to move towards the BJP and the AIADMK. Premalatha said that it was the DMDK that set the trend of a Tamil Nadu party successfully contesting on its own, without being in an alliance with either the DMK or the AIADMK. “But, for Lok Sabha election, DMDK would ally with any one of the national parties for the welfare of the state. So, once DMDK leader decides on the alliance, we would announce it officially,” she said.
It won’t be easy, though. Premalatha’s criticism of the PMK after working with the party during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as a member of the NDA means that the DMDK will be uneasy if it joins the AIADMK-led alliance of which the PMK is part. To add insult to injury, the PMK – which contested from 8 seats as opposed to DMDK’s 14 in 2014 – will almost certainly have more seats this time.
“[PMK leader] Anbumani Ramadoss became an MP because of us. More than one lakh votes polled by Ramadoss were the DMDK’s votes. However, after voting in the elections in a constituency where a DMDK candidate was contesting, Ramadoss said he voted for NOTA. So, the alliance partners weren’t true to the alliance,” she had told ‘The Hindu’.
The PMK may well have been the DMDK’s nemesis in 2014 but if Friday was any indication, Premalatha has revenge on her mind. Stalin should be a worried man: the party that he hoped will help him split the PMK’s voter base in the northern constituencies will now work with the same PMK to defeat the DMK.