TAMIL NADU

`Vaiko is a leader with a difference'

THANJAVUR, AUG. 21. "We do not follow him for profit, but because he is a leader with a difference, born out of commitment," said volunteers accompanying, Vaiko, general secretary of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, who is on a renaissance March from Tirunelveli to Chennai.

Mr. Vaiko, who has covered more than 400 km in 17 days so far, entered Thanjavur today with the volunteers.

Even as Mr. Vaiko rested at a marriage hall last night and treated the soreness in his legs by immersing them in hot water before continuing his march from Sengipatti, 24 kms from Thanjavur, 1200 volunteers were busy gearing themselves for the 17th day of the march.

They said they did not follow their leader in the hope that they would benefit if he became the Chief Minister some time in the future.

"He may or may not become the Chief Minister. That is not our concern. But we like his tenacity to fight for a good cause and his leadership qualities. No other leader can take out such a long march," said a volunteer from Thiruvannamalai who had accompanied Vaiko from Tirunelveli.

Vaiko insists on discipline. Youths, who participate in the march, are not allowed to consume alcohol or smoke. Orders are issued in Tamil to give importance to the language. Even while saluting Vaiko during his inspection, the volunteers are ordered to greet him saying "vanakkam" in Tamil.

The volunteers are asked to walk on the left side of the road so that traffic is not disrupted. Party workers are not allowed to walk with the volunteers, because it will create traffic congestion. They should walk either before the volunteers or behind them.

"Meticulous planning has gone into the conduct of the march. My aim is to channelise the youth in the right direction," said Mr. Vaiko proudly.