Political history of Tamil Nadu

1. Introduction

Chapter 1
"Political History of the Rise and Fall of Dravidian Parties in Tamil Nadu (South India)"

Thanjai Nalankilli, Ph.D.

TAMIL TRIBUNE, May 2005 (ID. 2005-06-01)
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Table of Contents of the book "Political History of the Rise and Fall of Dravidian Parties in Tamil Nadu (South India)"and links to other chapters


AIADMK - All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

DK - Dravidar Kazhagam

DMK - Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

MDMK - Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) (Dravidian Association) is the grandparent of all the political and non-political Dravidian parties in Tamil Nadu (parties that have the phrase Dravida in their names). Some of the off-shoot parties existed a little while and vanished. Today (year 2005) there are a little over half-dozen Dravidian parties. Some parties in existence today are very small and struggling to survive. The two most powerful Dravidian Parties today are All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and its parent party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) which was the direct descendent of Dravidar Kazhagam (DK). There are also a few other parties today that are not the offspring of Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) or its offshoots but have similar ideals and goals as the Dravidian parties.

What were the ideals and goals of Dravidar Kazhagam? The principal ideals and goals were social reform (such as ending religious superstitions, ending caste distinctions, empowerment of women), ending Brahmin dominance in Tamil Nadu educational institutions and government, ending northern domination of politics and economy of Tamil Nadu, opposition to Hindi as India's official language and independence for Dravida Nadu from India. (Dravida Nadu, that is Dravidian Country, consists of today's Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. In the 1960s DK changed the goal from independent Dravida Nadu to independent Tamil Nadu for lack of any support or enthusiasm from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. DMK also changed its emphasis from Dravida Nadu to Tamil Nadu [Reference 1]).

As stated in the previous paragraph, the two dominant Dravidian parties today are the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).  DMK was founded in 1949 by C. N. Annadurai who left DK because of personal differences with the DK founder and president Periyar E. V. Ramaswamy Naicker. AIADMK was formed by M. G. Ramachandran who left DMK because of personal differences with the then party chief and general-secretary M. Karunanidhi. Neither DMK nor AIADMK was formed out of policy differences with the parent body but because of personal differences between party leaders. [Note: Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam means "Dravidian Progressive Party", and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam means "All India Anna Dravidian Progressive Party" where "Anna" stands for the name "Annadurai", founder of DMK).

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) emerged as giants to dominate Tamilnadu politics since the mid-1960s. Either DMK or AIADMK formed Tamil Nadu State Government ever since the 1967 election. Their political dominance  is such that, since the 1990s, no other political party was able to win more than a few seats in the Indian parliament or state legislative assembly from Tamilnadu unless it makes electoral alliance with either DMK or AIADMK. These two parties are bitter political rivals that they never allied together.

In addition to ruling Tamil Nadu State, DMK and AIADMK have also become partners of ruling coalitions at the Indian Central Government (Indian Union Government) in New Delhi since the 1990s. Since they never support the same coalition at the same time, they were never together in a coalition government at the centre. 

With such overwhelming electoral successes of the two dominant Dravidian parties, one would expect that they would have achieved their ideals and goals that gave birth to the Dravidian parties in the first place. But that was not the case. These parties have made a Faustian compromise to achieve political power. Step by step, little by little, they had given up the ideals on which the parent body Dravidar Kazhagam was formed, in order to gain and hold political power within the northern-Aryan-Hindi dominated Indian power structure.

This is not to say that DMK and AIADMK have done nothing for Tamil people, Tamil Nadu and Tamil language. These parties were able to achieve some minor goals within the Indian power structure but the principal goals of independence for Dravidanadu and opposition to Hindi and "northern" domination had to be abandoned because these goals were aimed at the heart and soul of the very  northern-Aryan-Hindi dominated Indian power structure under which these parties had to operate. We will elaborate, discuss and analyze it later in the book.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part narrates the history of Dravidian parties in chronological sequence along with some analysis of this history. The second part consists of a number of chapters, each chapter discussing a single aspect of Dravidian Party history (across the timeline).

EDITORIAL NOTE: Some Tamil names are spelled differently by different people. Here are some variations of names used in this chapter:

Dravidar Kazhagam - Dravidar Kazagam
Dravida Nadu - Dravidanadu
Karunanidhi - Karunanithi
Naicker - Nayakkar, Nayakar
Periyar - Periar
Tamil Nadu - Tamilnadu


1. Why DK and DMK initially asked for Independent Dravida Nadu and later moved towards Independent Tamil Nadu (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, May 2005 (14 KB)

FIS050516    2005-a1d

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