Thol Thirumavalavan hinted that the VCK might go it alone in the 2016 Assembly elections, stating that the consultations for such a move with the cadres would begin soon.

: For the first time in almost eight years, the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) seems to be considering a break-up with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), going by its leader Thol Thirumavalavan's remarks on Wednesday.

The former MP hinted that the VCK might go it alone in the 2016 Assembly elections, stating that the consultations for such a move with the cadres would begin soon.

The decision comes months after a forgettable Lok Sabha election for the party that has based its politics espousing the Dalit cause. The AIADMK wave which swept the State knocked out Mr. Thirumavalavan as well, who lost his Chidambaram seat.

The party found itself in a precarious situation in the run-up to the polls when the seat-sharing talks with the DMK almost derailed after it was offered a lone seat.

This led to protests by cadres in parts of Tamil Nadu who considered the offer an affront to Dalit pride. After several rounds of parleys, the party managed to get one more seat allotted though its desire was to contest five seats.

Historically, the VCK-DMK relationship had been a complicated one. When the party was launched in the early 1990s, Mr. Thirumavalavan had pitched it as a unique force outside the Dravidian movement.

In his fiery speeches during this period, he had accused the Dravidian parties of shunning the welfare of the Dalits and siding with the intermediate castes for political mileage.

However, while the party had switched camps several times since 1999, when it first forayed into electoral politics, its alliance with the DMK has been one of the longest-running in the Tamil Nadu’s political scene.

A few VCK leaders feel this arrangement with the DMK was made more out of compulsion than by choice. The past experiments to unite Dalit parties on a common electoral platform, such as in 2004, failed miserably, leaving the party no choice but to seek the help of the Dravidian outfits in a State where alliance arithmetic has played a crucial role in poll outcomes.

“After 2006, we had to stick to the DMK as the AIADMK has shown no interest in taking us on board,” a VCK leader points out.

Heeding such compulsions has dented the VCK's image as an agitational force over the years.

In particular, Mr. Thirumavalavan’s Tamil nationalist credentials, which he had used as a strong electoral plank in the past, took a beating after 2009 when the VCK toed the DMK’s line on the Sri Lankan issue and remained in the UPA despite outwardly attacking the Congress. In fact, Mr. Thirumavalavan has been the main defender of Mr. Karunanidhi outside the DMK. But now the Dalit outfit in the changing post-2014 Lok Sabha scenario feels the need to do a reality check in the wake of the DMK left in bad shape, organisationally and electorally.

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