The political landscape of Tamil Nadu mourns the loss of Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) founder-leader, Captain Vijayakanth, who passed away at the age of 71 in Miot Hospital, Chennai, on Thursday. Hospital officials confirmed that he was admitted for pneumonia and had been on ventilator support.
The charismatic actor-politician, fondly referred to as “Captain” for his on-screen military portrayals, had been a prominent figure in Tamil cinema before venturing into politics. Vijayakanth featured in 154 movies and, with his versatile performances, captured the hearts of millions.
His political journey began in 2005 when he founded the DMDK, aiming to provide an alternative platform in Tamil Nadu’s political arena, challenging the established Dravidian parties like the DMK and AIADMK. The party made its electoral debut in the 2006 Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly elections, winning a significant number of seats and establishing itself as a force to be reckoned with.
In the 2011 Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly elections, the DMDK, under Captain Vijayakanth’s leadership, created history by winning more seats than the DMK, emerging as the principal Opposition Party. Vijayakanth served as the leader of the Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly from 2011 to 2016.
Despite facing internal challenges, including defections of key leaders, the DMDK, under Captain Vijayakanth, continued to be a formidable political force. The party joined the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, though it did not achieve significant success.
In recent years, Captain Vijayakanth had been ailing, maintaining a low profile. His wife, Premalatha, formally took over as the general secretary of the DMDK on December 14, marking a transition in the party leadership.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences, stating, “Extremely saddened by the passing away of Thiru Vijayakanth Ji. A legend of the Tamil film world, his charismatic performances captured the hearts of millions. As a political leader, he was deeply committed to public service, leaving a lasting impact on Tamil Nadu’s political landscape.”
Vijayakanth’s death leaves a void in Tamil Nadu’s political arena, and his contributions to both cinema and politics will be remembered by his family, fans, and followers. The actor-turned-politician’s legacy will continue to influence the state’s political narrative for years to come.