G K Vasan, BJP s latest interlocutor
CHENNAI: Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) president G K Vasan has emerged as the latest interlocutor for the BJP-led NDA in Tamil Nadu, particularly entrusted with the task of negotiating with the disparate allies in finalizing seat-sharing arrangements and channelizing the so-called ‘anti-DMK’ votes to their coalition without letting them scatter in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
Though the BJP top brass has appointed AIADMK general secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami as the southern representative of NDA after the meeting of its 38 allies, Vasan is expected to be the de facto coordinator keeping the diverse parties and splinter groups in good humor, lest they drift towards the DMK camp.
Since the BJP top brass believes that the split in the AIADMK could possibly divide the party’s traditional vote bank from the times of M G Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa with other leaders like O Panneerselvam, T T V Dinakaran and V K Sasikala taking away small slices from the big cake, it has been urging Palaniswami to take them altogether.
However, with Palaniswami and his acolytes in the parties adamant about not letting any of those three into the party, the BJP wants Vasan to ensure that they remain loyal to the BJP by holding talks with them. Similarly, Palaniswami is said to be not very keen on having the PMK and DMDK in its coalition as those two parties have a record of driving hard bargains in the past without bringing compensatory returns in the polls.
On the contrary, the BJP wants to harness every single vote against the DMK to amplify its support base as it was particularly about fielding at least nine candidates, including a couple of eminent leaders, from Tamil soil to dispel the prevalent myth that Tamil Nadu will always be its Achilles Heel.
While the DMDK was not invited to the recent NDA meeting of 38 allies in New Delhi, the PMK only sent a representative with the top honchos keeping off. That was in sharp contrast to the party’s former president of over 25 years, G K Mani, attending Chief Minister M K Stalin’s meeting in Dharmapuri on Monday.
So, with the PMK possibly swinging either way – towards the AIADMK-BJP or the DMK-Congress – the BJP does not want to take a risk of letting the party get away from its clutches and feels that Vasan would be the right person to rein it in.
Vasan, who has not won a single election but had held top positions in the Government as Union Minister and in the Congress Party as TNCC president and national secretary, was identified by the BJP as a potential ally to be nurtured for the future at least in 2020 or even earlier when he broke away from the Congress in 2014.
Son of G K Moopanar, the veteran Congress leader of Tamil Nadu who staunchly refused to vote in favour of the Vajpayee-led government in 1999 making it clear that he was committed to secular ideals, even when the DMK went along with the BJP and tried to save the government, Vasan came into political limelight only in 2002 after the passing of his father.
Moopanar had broken away from the Congress in 1996 in protest against his high command’s decision to align with the AIADMK-led by J Jayalalithaa and formed the Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) along with some senior party colleagues in the State and even just missed becoming the Prime Minister after his party, along with the DMK, romped home in the elections.
When he passed away in 2001, he was heading the TMC. So, the senior leaders of the TMC made his son, Vasan, who had held no position in government or party before that, succeed him as president. He merged the TMC with the Congress in the presence of Sonia Gandhi and a huge gathering at Madurai and grew in the party to get Rajya Sabha seats and ministerial berths.
However, in 2014, he broke away from the Congress and revived the TMC to remain in political obscurity till 2020 when an opportunity opened for the AIADMK to send three nominees to the Rajya Sabha. Ahead of that, Vasan had entered into an alliance with the AIADMK in 2019. But when the AIADMK allocated one Rajya Sabha seat to Vasan instead of choosing one of its own leaders, it was a surprise.
While the AIADMK did not officially clarify the reason for its choice of Vasan, whose party had no representation in the Assembly, the speculation then was that the BJP wanted the AIADMK to nominate him with a view to cultivating him as an enabler for its own entry into Tamil Nadu. Also, there was a rumour then that Vasan had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi a month earlier.