Politics in South India

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A political rally of the Left Democratic Front in Kerala.

Andhra Pradesh[edit]

After the formation of Andhra Pradesh in 1953, the Indian National Congress ruled the state for 30 years, winning all elections in the period. This changed in the 1980s due to the establishment of a regional party named Telugu Desam Party (TDP) by Telugu matinee idol Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao (NTR)which was initiated and presented to him in idea form by Tripuraneni Maharadhi a famous Telugu writer who was a contemperory of M.karunanidhi of Tamil Nadu. They won the 1983 Assembly election by a landslide, NTR becoming the first non-Congress Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. Since then, both the TDP and the Congress have dominated Andhra politics, with either party coming to power after a long interval of time.

The main issue which dominates Andhra politics is the Telangana movement. This movement, which has been going on for many years, aims at the formation of a separate Telangana state consisting of the northern districts of Andhra Pradesh. MLA's and MP's from this region cutting across party lines have supported the movement, but it is widely opposed by MLA's and MP's from the Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra regions, who favour a united Andhra Pradesh. Caste also figures prominently in Andhra politics. Politics in Andhra Pradesh is dominated by major castes like the Reddys, the Kammas and the Kapus. Factionism is another issue in Andhra politics, especially in the Rayalaseema region where it is a serious problem. Even today, many politicians or their families are associated with factionism, spending their valuable time and resources to retaliate with their opponents. There is also the problem of Naxalism in the state, especially in the Rayalaseema and Telangana regions.

Like Tamil Nadu, the film industry in the state has influenced Andhra politics. Besides NTR, film stars like Chiranjeevi, Vijayashanti and Dasari Narayana Rao among others have successfully made their mark in the politics of the state.

Andhra Pradesh state leaders have also contributed immensely at the national level, with former Chief Ministers Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy and P. V. Narasimha Rao becoming the President of India and Prime Minister of India respectively and NTR instrumental in the formation of the National Front which ruled India between 1989-91.


The Janata Dal has been far more successful in Karnataka than it has been in national politics. National political parties such as the BJP and INC have experienced more comparative success in Karnataka than they have in other states of South India. Karnataka's political environment is dominated by two rival caste groups — the Vokkaligas and the Lingayats.[1] Ramakrishna Hegde played an integral part in the ascent of the Janata Dal into the national foray in the late 1980s. However, it was his political rival H.D. Deve Gowda, then the Chief Minister of Karnataka, who later went on to become the Prime Minister of India. Caste has figured prominently in Karnataka politics. Anti-Hindi and anti-Tamil movements were prominent in Karnataka politics in the 1960s and 1970s.[2] Language activism is high in the state, with organisations like the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike and the Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha often launching agitations for protecting the interests of Kannada and Kannadigas. The Kaveri water dispute with Tamil Nadu and the Belgaum border dispute with Maharashtra both hold an important place in the politics of the state.


Politics in Kerala comprises two major political alliances: the United Democratic Front (UDF — led by the Indian National Congress) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF — led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist)). Kerala numbers among India’s most left-wing states. An interesting phenomenon of Kerala politics, is the alternate election of Congress and the Communists to power.Kerala has a significant number of Muslim and Christian population which traditionally form the base of UDF, whereas Ezhavas, a backward class community form the core of LDF. K R Narayanan, former president and A K Gopalan of CPM, first Leader of opposition in Lok Sabha were from kerala. Kerala created history by democratically electing communists to power in 1957,being first in the world to do so.

Tamil Nadu[edit]

INC's political influence over Tamil Nadu gave way to the rise of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in 1967, whose initial mandate was the secession of Tamil Nadu (Dravida Nadu) from the rest of India. In 1972, a split in the DMK resulted in the formation of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), led by MG Ramachandran. Together, the AIADMK and the DMK currently command a 60% share in Tamil Nadu state elections.[3] The shift in political power in Tamil Nadu was due to the rise of Dravidan Nationalism spearheaded by leaders such as Periyar Ramasami and C. N. Annadurai, who extolled the achievements Tamilians in ways that the common man could relate to. The main facets of state politics in Tamil Nadu included language — the distinction between Tamil and non-Tamil speakers was an important tool used by the DMK in the 1960s and caste[3] — such as the Self-respect Movement. The imposition of Hindi on non-Hindi speaking areas of India has often been a contentious issue in Tamil Nadu. In January–February 1965, large scale Anti-Hindi agitations, a cause championed by the DMK,[4] occurred in Tamil Nadu. The Cauvery water dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka is an important and sensitive issue in the politics of the state.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Price, Pamela. " Ideological Elements in Political Instability in Karnataka...". University of Oslo
  2. ^ Nair, Janaki. "Battles for Bangalore: Reterritorialising the City". Centre for the Study of Culture and Society. Bangalore, India.
  3. ^ a b Harris, Wyatt. "The Changing Politics of Tamil Nadu in the 1990s". Political Mobilisation and Political Competition. Dec 2004.
  4. ^ Guha, Ramachandra. "Hindi against India". 2006. The Hindu. The Hindu Group. 16 Jan. 2005