In Tamil Nadu, one of the biggest pre-poll surprises has been Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader V Gopalaswamy alias Vaiko quitting the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-led Democratic Progressive Alliance and joining the front led by the All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.
It is shocking because AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa was the one who imprisoned Vaiko under the erstwhile Prevention Of Terrorism Act.
In the second of a two-part interview with Shobha Warrier, the MDMK leader describes in detail how Sun TV blacked him out, and how the DMK forced him to leave.
Don't miss the first part of the Vaiko interview: 'Let us forget the past'
It was reported widely that your mother was against you joining the AIADMK alliance.
My mother is my goddess. She is a very brave woman. In fact, she told me, 'Why don't you go to the AIADMK because these people [the DMK] will never allow you to grow.'
I said, 'How can I go, amma?'
I was taking her to my village, and my personal assistant and cadres were in the car with us.
When they told me to go with the AIADMK, for argument's sake I told them that I should not go with the AIADMK because my image might be damaged, and people would blame me.
My mother was sitting by my side but she just listened.
At night, as I was leaving home, I touched her feet. She said, if you are worried that your honour may be damaged, you should continue with the DMK.
When a reporter from a weekly asked her some questions, she was under the impression that I was with the DMK. In fact, till March, I also felt I was with the DMK alliance.
So, she told the reporter that even if the AIADMK gave 100 seats, my son would not leave the DMK alliance. When this appeared in print, the villagers asked her, 'Why did you tell your son to go with the DMK when the cadres are not happy with it?'
She then telephoned me and said, 'Do whatever you think is good for the party.'
But when the papers played up her opinion, she got very upset. She felt she had embarrassed her son. Her health got affected and I had to admit her in a hospital for 10 days.
Those who used my mother were heartless people.
Would you have listened to your mother?
This is not a family matter. My party is not like Karunanidhi's party. My party is not a family party. It is the party members who decide, not my mother. Not my family members.
Is it true you had been contemplating joining the AIADMK-led front?
I was undergoing tremendous mental trauma for the last two years. I never expected a total blackout of myself and my party on Sun TV during the Lok Sabha poll campaign despite the fact that I campaigned for the DPA in all the party constituencies.
Even at the one venue I participated along with Kalaignar -- in Sivakasi constituency at Arippukottai -- I was not shown. Only Kalaignar was shown.
Madam Sonia Gandhi was to address a gathering in Chennai. I came to know from a very responsible source in the Congress that Kalaignar was very particular that only he and Sonia Gandhi should address the meeting.
The source also told me that Kalaignar did not want me to share the dais with Sonia Gandhi and make a speech.
Even during the election campaign, I was treated like this. My hard work was utilised for the success of the UPA [United Progressive Alliance] candidates but at the same time, they didn't want to show my face on TV.
Immediately after the elections, my party was not included in the public meeting of the DPA. I asked Kalaignar why. He told me only the parties who had representation in the assembly were invited.
I then told him, 'The meeting is not going to take place inside the assembly but in a public place. It gives the impression that the MDMK is being pushed out of the alliance.'
Only after this conversation was the MDMK included in the meeting.
Why didn't you speak about this earlier?
Let me complete what I went through. Though I understood they wanted to utilise me but at the same time they wanted to suppress me and crush me and throw me out, I decided to continue in the alliance.
During my 42-day padayatra, I met lakhs and lakhs of people everyday, and only Sun TV did not telecast any visuals of it.
The reward Raj TV got for telecasting my programme three times everyday was the cancellation of their licence.
Using the communications ministry, they are promoting their business and destroying others who are in the same business. This has never happened in Independent India.
Did you ever speak about this to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh?
I have the greatest admiration, affection and respect for that great man. He is a noble person. I feel I should not divulge what I had discussed with the prime minister.
You said you were disillusioned with the DPA from 2004. Why then did you continue as an ally?
I thought, what other alternative do I have? I have to tolerate all this and continue. In 1993, I was thrown out and diabolical criminal charges were framed against me. Even now, I had only worked sincerely for the alliance. I don't know why they treated me like this.
After the padayatra was over, on September 23, 2004, he [Karunanidhi] wrote an article in Murasoli in which he castigated me very badly. He wrote, 'These are the people who tried to capture our party and the flag. They are the villains.'
I was described as a poisonous snake, a wolf and a bloodthirsty vulture. He wrote, 'These people will run away at the glare of the sun.'
Yes, he was correct; not the rising sun [the DMK's party symbol] but the son [Karunanidhi's son Stalin].
Did he mention your name in the article?
He didn't have to name me. He wrote, 'The people who left the party some years back.'
I asked him, 'Why did you write like this?'
He said, 'I was angry because Aladi Aruna [DMK politician, who was murdered on December 31, 2004] addressed your meeting.'
I said, 'I never invited him. He came by himself.'
Then he said, 'John attacked Sun TV at the meeting. At the meeting itself, I had said I did not agree with that. John was ill at that time yet he had come to attend.'
I asked him [Karunanidhi], 'I have not made any mistake. Why do you treat me like this?' He had no answer.
Then he said, 'You told a weekly that you don't watch Sun TV.'
I said, 'I said so in an interview to Kalki because I don't watch Sun TV. I am untouchable as far as Sun TV is concerned.'
After the padayatra was over, they [Sun TV] showed a skit about a man going on a padayatra and falling dead.
When my party cadres saw this, their feelings erupted like a volcano. But I stomached it. I was struggling inside. Why should we work for such an alliance, I thought.
After you left the DMK alliance, Sun TV is showing your earlier speeches on Jayalalithaa.
I am very happy. At least now they are showing my face!
In your interview to Jaya TV, you spoke about the prime minister giving ministerial berths to the MDMK.
No, that was not what I said. At one point of time, I thought of reconsidering the decision of not joining the ministry. When I asked the PM whether it was possible, he asked, 'Will the DMK drop one minister from their quota?'
It seems the DMK got so many ministerial berths counting the MDMK seats as well. I was shocked to hear that. When I met Sonia Gandhi, she also said that the impression she got from the DMK was that MDMK was within the DMK -- that is, an alliance within an alliance.
How do you describe the last few months of your political career?
It has been a traumatic period.