It was with much fanfare that Vijay Mallya the former chairman of the UB group had bought the sword of Tipu Sultan. I want to restore the legacy of Tipu, Mallya said at a crowded press conference at Bengaluru in 2004. Following which he announced that he had paid Rs 1.57 crore for the sword which is several centuries old.
Mallya went on to announce that he is interested in setting up a museum with items relating to Tipu Sultan and would continue to purchase them from the various museums which are prepared to auction them. This was the same time that Vijay Mallya had taken over as the National Working President of the Janata Party.
He felt that the raking up the legacy of Tipu Sultan would fetch him the Muslim votes in the elections that were round the corner. While it appeared to be a smart move by him, the fact that his campaign was wrong from the start.
A journalist colleague who travelled in his private jet to cover an election campaign by Vijay Mallya at Kozhikode recounts, " the money flowed like water from his brewaries, but he never got it right. Mallya being Mallya was never grounded," he tells OneIndia.
Getting it wrong all the time:
Mallya appeared to be very ambitious when he decided to campaign for the Janata Party. He had said that his party would provide for a true alternative to the Congress in both Kerala and Karnataka. This campaign at Kozhikode is the one that takes the cake.
The journalist who was covered this campaign said it was true Mallya style. His private jet was organised to ferry the journalists from Bengaluru to Kozhikode. Walking into the private jet itself was an experience in itself.
A conference hall, plush seats and of course not to mention the overflow of booze. So much booze that one of his assistants refused to wake up and assist the media once the jet made its landing in Kozhikode.
" I was taken aback by this lacklustre attitude. Mallya had no clear vision and refused to come out of his corporate outfit, the journalist recounts. I could see that several officials from his company were playing the role of a party worker. I feel that this was wrong on his part. he chose to take the corporate route and even when he campaigned there was never any stress on a local issue. Politics does work to a large extent on the caste factor, but Mallya never took any of that seriously."
There was more focus around the grandeur when compared to the campaign. There were nearly 30 of us on that campaign trail. On reaching Kozhikode, we were all taken in the Ceilo car, a high end vehicle at that time. All of us were put up in the Taj Malabar- another sign of splurging, the journalist further recalls. All we got to witness during the campaign was splurging of money and no real issue relating to the people.
He never looked like one of us:
Mallya would always begin his campaign an hour late. There were crowds waiting or asked to wait. In the scorching summer heat of April-May the people would wait for Mallya to arrive. His arrival at the venue too reeked of arrogance. A battery of cars, security guards among others. Mallya would emerge out of his vehicle to the sound of bands.
Even when he spoke he never remained grounded. He continued to remain a corporate and this is something that the people never connected with. They were there more to see the splurge show rather than hear him talk. Taking all this into account, it became very evident that he was not going to succeed and that is what happened. Finally he ended up a Rajya Sabha member with the support of all parties.