Is there really any hope to challenge the hegemony of the two main Dravidian parties that have ruled the state by turn for nearly 48 years since 1967?
It is a really daunting challenge to break into the 50-year-old cycle of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) poll triumphs in Tamil Nadu.
Last state assembly election in Tamil Nadu has explicitly showed that the two main Dravidian parties one led by J. Jayalalithaa, and other by M. Karunanidhi have come to stay as the sole political expressions of Tamilians and there seems to be no way any other party, either regional or national- can replace them. Even important regional coalition parties which took birth in Tamil state failed miserably to impress the masses
Another interesting factor is these Dravidian parties have also proven that no national or regional party can form government at the centre without aligning with either of these two wings.
Until now, for us, the people of Tamil Nadu, elections have only meant two political outfits and their respective symbols, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (rising sun) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (two leaves). To be more precise, they have meant two parties and three personalities – say M Karunanidhi, MG Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa. These three have trapped and controlled the political imagination of the people. For an electorate that led the way in social reform, we have lost almost all our social awareness and reduced politics to hero-worship and sycophancy.Tamil Nadu has been a dictatorial democracy for far too long.To be more precise, they have meant two parties and three personalities – say M Karunanidhi, MG Ramachandran and J Jayalalitha. These three have trapped and controlled the political imagination of the people.
Tamil Nadu’s hero-worship, especially the display of unabashed mother-worship that Jayalalithaa receives from her followers, has made the country look at the state with surprise. Analysts related Tamil Nadu’s electoral behavior to caste-based politics, “freebie culture” and pre-election bribery that has become the norm in the state. They also implied that the Tamil people in general are gullible illiterates who have been taken for a ride by the Dravidian parties for a very long time.
Though JJ was under the shadow of a big corruption scandal, people liked her as others are not seen as being better than Jayalalithaa. Added to this is the perception of motherhood making distrust almost impossible. Here, the “mother” culture is very strong in Tamil-land.
One wonders as to wonder why no other outfit has been able to challenge the DMK and AIADMK.The Congress and BJP are, let us admit it, seen as parties of Hindi-speaking Northerners.
BJP is considered as a party of uppercast. Tamils do not much like them.
Tamil Nadu is the first ever state n the world to produce a film star chief minister by electing an actor turned politician MGR as their CM. The direct connection between cinema and Tamil Nadu’s socio-politics continued right up to the 1980s. Even though it has moved away in the last few decades, in the psyche of the Tamilian this bond has not been broken. When a cinemagoer watches a film, he/she is unconsciously connecting the political and cultural, film personalities with the power of change.
MK and AIADMK promoted the freebie culture in the state to woo the voters. Are people so naïve that they vote based on the gifts they receive from the establishment? This is , the system establishes a giver-taker power syndrome and the gift confirms benevolence as a virtue. On the other side of the scale, the receiver is thankful for the kindness shown by the rulers. The politicians distribute the gifts to voters as the frenzy surrounds the events.The pre-election money distribution is unfortunately seen only as another gift. The AIADMK and the DMK are masters at this craft.
The assembly poll 2016 led to the weakening of all non-Dravidian parties. Vaiko originally a Dravidian leader floated his own party and made a electoral coalition with other 5 parties to float front but none of candidates of the coalition won a seat to the assembly.PMK, of Dr. Ramadoss lost its representatives in the new assembly as not even his son Anbumani could win his “safe” seat from his home constituency with his caste dominating politics.
BJP could not even maneuver either with DMK or AIADMK- both outrightly rejected the BJP for electoral alliance.
In the Dravidian land, perhaps quite appropriately, national parties seem to count for little
After MGR, Jaya could easily step into the AIADMK leader’s shoes and handle Karunanidhi.
Now she is gone.The political pygmies in the party have some relief in the inadvertent illness of Karunanidhi and his old age and the confusion within the DMK ranks over the succession.
Still, the DMK remains a power to reckon with, having only closely lost power in the last assembly elections.
What course will then the politics of the Dravidian parties take in the future?
Both parties had little to do about a development agenda or clean governance, but their domineering presence left no alternative for the people to vote for either this party or the other.
whenever the Centre or national politics tried to intervene, both parties raised the banner of “Tamil sentiment”, going even to the extent of making the state a base for Eelam nationalists of Sri Lanka.
Now, Jaya is gone. Karunanidhi is old and at present hospitalized. Remove their presence from the scene, what are you left with?
That is the moot question today.
To find an answer is not so easy.The two parties are still anti-Hindi. They embraced English with a vengeance instead. However, non-Tamil words are crowding traditional Tamil today. People do speak Hindi and many learn to read and write in that language.
The BJP, despite some support it enjoys among Brahmins and some militant OBC sections, it has never had much of a root it is hard put to find any allies, and so the state continues to be under the sway of the Dravidian parties, whatever their corruption and moral bankruptcy.