Karunanidhi is perhaps the most wily politician in India. His ability to use any adverse situation to gain political mileage is his greatest asset. Despite being an ally of the NDA Government, Karunanidhi went throgh the humilating midnight arrest orchestrated by Jayalalitha. Although this rash and indecent act yielded little in return for Jayalalithaa, it endeared Karuananidhi to crores of Tamils across the world. The wily old fox that Karunanidhi is, understood that this incident was not good enough to win an election. It earned him pity-for-the-moment from people. Not symapthy. Sympathy could translate into votes and he knew how to exploit it. All he needed was one ripe situation. And came the situation in the name of Vaiko.
When Karunanidhi realised that the incarceration of Vaiko, is translating into large-scale symapthy, he immediately cashed in, erased the nasty feud with Vaiko in the past and rushed to adorn the role of saviour-mentor. His demand to then Central Government to revoke the draconian POTA fell on deaf ears. This was the biggest political point he could ever score. The scriptwriter in him sensed the building of an exciting plot. The hero - clearly Vaiko, jailed on charges of mouthing insipid political rhetoric about LTTE, was beginning to evoke symapathy among large sections of people. The seasoned politician inhim was quick to realise that in political parlance sympathy is spelt 'votes'. The Villan here was obviously Jayalalitha - his betenoire. She had, he accused, misused POTA on Vaiko and he played on the emotions of the Tamils to teach her a lesson for inflicting such pain on "his brother" Vaiko. The villian's sidekick - quite inadvertently - was the NDA government. The law brought in with the motive of curbing terrorrist actvities - especially in terror-stricken state of Jammu and Kashmir - was creating political turmoil in Tamil Nadu. Even in his nightmare, Vajpayee could not have imagined a law enacted by his Govt could be used to jail his own ally in the very same term. It happened. Call it error of political judgement or sheer political fortune for Karunanidhi, Vaiko became a scapegoat. So here was a hero and a villian and all that was required was to create a point of conflict. In one act of political masterstroke, Karunanidhi staged a demonstration against Jayalalithaa for jailing Vaiko and stepped up pressure against the Central Govt to repeal the law. It was killing two birds with one stone. Vaiko's supporters and symapthisers were swayed by Karunanidhi's concern for their leader. Before, Vaiko could realise the true colours of this political game, Karunanidhi appealed to him to apply for a bail - "in the interests of the people of Tamil Nadu," he cried. Tired of a long jail term and confused by Kalaignar's sudden affection, Vaiko applied for a bail. Before he could plan his next move, Karunanidhi withdrew support to the NDA Govt on flippant grounds - the only credible motive being the imprisonment of Vaiko. Catch 22 for Vaiko. He admired Vajpayee and would give his right arm to stay as an ally of the BJP. But here was his political mentor, who had gone all out for his cause. He was left with little choice. Reluctantly, Vaiko's MDMK too pulled out of NDA. And, from then on Vaiko political course was dictated by Karunanidhi. The number of seats Vaiko's party would contest, the specific constituencies were all at Karuna's discretion. The piece de resistance was in dissuading Vaiko not to contest the parliamentary election. In short, while Karunanidhi rode on Vaiko's syampathy wave, he made sure that his party reaped all the benefits. While the fiery speaker in Vaiko drew large crowds, the candidates he was canvassing for were from the DMK. While Karunanidhi's family-owned Sun TV conveniently blanked out his public meetings, Vaiko could do nothing in protest. The Tiger of Sivakasi after being made a political scapegoat was now turned into a vote-laying golden goose. As the 14 lok Sabha took shape and a record 7 ministers from the DMK took oath of office at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, there was one man in the audience who felt miserably left out. A man, on whose name, the DMK won the elections, Vaiko suffered in silence.