Jayalalithaa is not used to being cast in side roles. As the script ordained this time. The Marumallarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam ( MDMK)’ s mega rally of the week in Chennai, marking the 90th birth anniversary of DMK founder C. N. Annadurai, took place without the lady from Poes Garden. The absence of Jayalalithaa, who held a parallel rally of the AIADMK at Tiruchi on the same day, indicated a major fissure in the anti- DMK coalition that she had assiduously built up. With the BJP and the DMK— one Jayalalithaa’s estranged ally, the other a proclaimed anathema— sharing the dais at the MDMK rally at Marina Beach, it was a prelude to the changing of power equations in a state dominated by caste politics, the echoes of which are sure to travel across the Vindhyas.
The parallel rallies had a resounding message to convey: There is a virtual break in the AIADMK- led Tamil Nadu front that supported Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Government. The remark of the Prime Minister that “the Chennai rally marks a new dimension in Tamil Nadu politics” was more than significant. It signalled the endeavour of the Dravidian parties to befriend the BJP, which until recently was seen as a communal party run by Hindi zealots.
While Jayalalithaa sulked, MDMK General Secretary Vaiko celebrated.