Politics of Tamil Nadu

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Politics of Tamil Nadu is the politics related to the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

History of Tamil Nadu politics[edit]

Formation of Tamil Nadu[edit]

Pre-Dravidian politics of Tamil Nadu[edit]

Indian National Congress dominated the political scene in the initial years post independence with leaders like C. Rajagopalachari and K. Kamaraj . The political influence shifted from national politics towards regional politics with rise of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in the late 1960s.

Rise of Dravidian politics[edit]

Dravidian parties have dominated state politics since 1967. One of the earliest regional parties was the South Indian Welfare Association, which was founded in 1916. It came to be known as the Justice Party after the name of its English-language daily, Justice. E.V. Ramasami, popularly known as "Periyar", renamed the party Dravidar Kazhagam in 1944. DK was a non-political party which demanded the establishment of an independent state called Dravida Nadu. However, due to the differences between its two leaders Periyar and C.N. Annadurai, the party was split. Annadurai left the party to form the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). The DMK decided to enter into politics in 1956.

The Anti-Hindi agitations in the mid-1960s made the DMK more popular and more powerful political force in the state. The DMK routed the Indian National Congress party in the 1967 elections and took control of the state government, ending Congress's stronghold in Tamil Nadu. C.N. Annadurai became the DMK's first Chief Minister, and Muthuvel Karunanidhi took over as Chief Minister and party leader after Annadurai's death in 1969.Karunanidhi's leadership was soon challenged by M.G. Ramachandran, popularly known as MGR. In 1972, he split from DMK and formed the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). He was the Chief Minister of the state from 1977 until his death in 1987. After the death of MGR, the party split again into two factions, one led by Janaki Ramachandran, wife of MGR, and the other led by J. Jayalalithaa. After the defeat of AIADMK in 1989 assembly polls, both factions were merged and Jayalalithaa took control of the party. She was elected as the General Secretary of the unified AIADMK. There have been splits in both the DMK and the AIADMK, but since 1967 one of those two parties has held power in the state. In the State elections after M.G. Ramachandran's death, neither of the two parties could come back to power in consecutive assembly elections. Governments were formed by: DMK in 1989, AIADMK in 1991, DMK alliance in 1996, AIADMK alliance in 2001, DMK alliance in 2006 and AIADMK alliance consecutively in 2011 and 2016.

Tamil Nationalism in politics[edit]

Tamil Nationalism has been part of the Tamil political Arena ever since a Tamil identity pride has been created among the Tamil populace in the late 19th century. Dravidian movement and Tamil nationalism rose from the same roots. They differed in very few but important topics, such as eradication casteism , promoting religious equality and extermination of untouchability. While Dravidian parties take these topics at the same level of Promotion of Tamil, the Tamil organizations sole priority was promotion of Tamil. On multiple occasions they were religious and sometimes refused to acknowledge the caste problems.[1]

During the Anti Hindi Imposition Movement, the Tamil Nationalist organizations converged with Dravidian parties on the common ground of Protecting and Promoting Tamil.[2] In the next oncoming decades, the relevance of the Tamil Nationalist Parties reduced to a great degree. Still many Tamil Nationalist organizations keep on working on promotion of Tamil identity.

Such parties and their policies can be classified into a wider spectrum. There are organization which claim every person with an intent to promote Tamil identity as a Tamil. At the same time, few elements classify and deny Tamil identity to the people of Tamil Nadu based on Caste lines, which is in total contrast to the former type.[3]

After the death of Velupillai Prabhakaran, a revival, even though not a big enough to create an impact in political balance, is seen. The success of this new wave is yet to be seen.

Political culture of Tamil Nadu[edit]

Freebie Culture[edit]

Politics in Tamil Nadu has had a strongly socialist character since the rise of Dravidian politics in the 1960s. In Tamil Nadu, DMK and AIADMK are alternately elected by people in Tamil Nadu and a strong third party does not exist. Both DMK and AIADMK, the major political parties in Tamil Nadu, as per their political and economic policy, made sure that the people of the state receive the fruits of the modern technology[4]. Whichever party was in the rule, made sure that all the households have a television set, the womenfolk have access to work on the economy of their family by providing them household appliances[5] and the students have all the necessary tools to reach and complete their education namely bicycle, textbooks, stationery and laptops[6].

At the same time, the promise of and distribution of freebies is considered and criticized to be a form of bribery, disguised as people welfare. The right wing political parties and economists feel that the fiscal profligacy and handouts don’t make economic sense and, importantly, they tend to make people lazy.[7] The leftists and the left leaning parties have raised concerns about the revenue model used for financing the freebie schemes. They accuse the two parties of depoliticizing the electorate and bribing the voters to turn blind eye to the corruptions of the regimes [8][9][10] These social welfare schemes provide the Dravidian faction of the Tamilnadu politics an edge over the other regional and national parties.

Caste Politics[edit]

Tamil Nadu has seen numerous caste based parties, serving two purposes. Either to represent the genuine concerns of the oppressed communities or to create Votebanks for ruling parties.[11]

The Dalit political parties, representing the oppressed societies have been fighting for social justice. Typically reservation in education and job opportunities are demanded by such parties[12]. In Tamil Nadu such parties are also supporters of Tamil Nationalism. Rarely some of the parties have claimed that the castes they represent are oppressed by being declared a part of the Scheduled castes list. They demand removal of their caste from Scheduled castes list and to rename their caste[13].

However, people from the relatively upper castes and also have founded political parties. They fear that their opportunities are robbed by the concessions extended to the SC and ST communities. They have demanded to get their castes declare as backward to avail reservation[14].

The effect of the caste politics is debatable and could not be expected end in near future[15]. In 2001, the sitting DMK government came up with a huge a alliance with caste parties and was defeated in 2001 assembly election. Still caste based political parties are part of both the ruling and opposition alliances in all the successive elections.

Celebrity worship[edit]

Many people from the Tamil film industry are active in Tamil Nadu politics. Some of the Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu like MG Ramachandran, Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa have their background in the Tamil film industry. The worship of party leader by members is widely spread in Tamil Nadu, sometimes it reaches a fanatical level. This worship culture originates during the era of MGR.[16]

The youngsters were often a factor that changes the dynamic of Tamil Nadu politics, what can be seen in Anti-Hindi agitations of Tamil Nadu, 2013 Anti–Sri Lanka protests and 2017 pro-jallikattu protests.

Tamil national parties[edit]

Dravidian parties[edit]

Apolitical Dravidian parties

Dravidian parties originating from Justice party.

Dravidian parties without roots in Justice party

Indian national parties[edit]

Congress parties

Communist parties

Forward Bloc parties


Religious parties[edit]

Hindu nationalist parties

Religious minority parties

Caste parties[edit]

Dalit rights parties[edit]

Socialist parties[edit]

Agrarian parties[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tamil nationalism, then and now". Frontline. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  2. ^ "Dravida Nadu to Tamil Nadu: Evolution of the state's identity". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  3. ^ "When Tamil Nationalism Turned Against Telugu Speakers Of Tamil Nadu". Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  4. ^ "DMK regime a blend of socialism and capitalism: Poongothai". The Hindu. 2008-01-10. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  5. ^ "Women self-help groups to get Rs 7,000 crore as loans - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  6. ^ Bureau, Madurai (2018-04-09). "Laptops distributed to school students". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  7. ^ "View from the right: Freebies Vs Growth". The Indian Express. 2015-02-18. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  8. ^ "Tamil Nadu, the ultimate freebie State". The Hindu.
  9. ^ "Tamil Nadu polls: Welfare, freebies, prohibition". indianexpress.com.
  10. ^ "The politics of freebies". asianage.com.
  11. ^ "Why caste is as important to Tamil Nadu politics as Amma vs Karunanidhi". scroll.in.
  12. ^ "Agitation by backward Vanniyar community rocks Tamil Nadu". India Today. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  13. ^ "Take steps to remove six castes from SC list: Krishnasamy". The Hindu. Special Correspondent. 2018-09-21. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2018-09-29.CS1 maint: others (link)
  14. ^ "Kongu Vellalar Goundars seek MBC status - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  15. ^ "Why caste battle in Tamil Nadu never ends - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  16. ^ "MGR: The man who made cult worship the theme of Tamil Nadu politics". indianexpress.com.
  17. ^ Surely, the Shiv Sena is going national, expanding its base in Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.."'The Shiv Sena is going national'". The Hindu.