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DMK: 80 years old, and going strong

After having once dominated TN on its own, it now polls, along with its rival AIADMK, 60% of all votes in the state.

india Updated: May 06, 2006 10:05 IST
Papri Sri Raman (IANS)
Papri Sri Raman (IANS)

The DMK, which hopes to bounce back to power in Tamil Nadu in Monday's elections, is 80 years old and still going strong.

After having once dominated Tamil Nadu on its own, it now polls, along with its rival AIADMK, 60 per cent of all votes in the sprawling southern state.

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam had its roots in the Self Respect Association and the Justice Party which were set up in 1916-17, both as non-Brahmin organisations.

The party has come a long way in the last 80 years, but DMK president M Karunanidhi continues to warn against Brahmin domination even in 2006.

Dravidian ideologue EV Ramasamy Naicker, known popularly as 'Periyar', matured in politics with the Gandhian movement, aligning with the non-Brahmin faction of the Congress when C Rajagopalachari led the Brahmin-dominated Tamil Nadu Congress.

Periyar and his followers left the Congress by 1925 and founded the Self Respect Association in 1926. This was later renamed the Dravida Kazhagam or Party of the Dravidians, in short DK.

The DK split in 1949, and the DMK was born - Party of Draividian Progress - under the leadership of C Annadurai. It was at a party conference in Tiruchirapally in 1954 that the DMK decided to embark on an electoral path.

The DMK's first legislator was PU Shanmugam from Tiruvannamalai, where he defeated a Congress candidate handpicked by K Kamaraj in a by-election in 1954.

The main campaigner for Shanmugam was a popular actor of the time, MG Ramachandran or MGR, who grew in the party then onward.

It was in 1957 that Annadurai, Karunanidhi, K Anbazhagan, VR Nedunchezian and other important leaders became MLAs. MGR was the DMK's main vote catcher.

Kamaraj had led the Congress to victory in the Tamil Nadu assembly for two terms but he decided to step down as chief minister in 1964.

In 1965 anti-Hindi protests rocked the state, fuelled by the DMK.

At this crucial time in history, Rajaji (Rajagopalaxhari) allied his Swatantra Party with the DMK. At the same time the Communist Party of India (CPI) split and the Communist Party of India-Marxist too allied with the DMK.

In the 1967 assembly polls, the DMK won 137 seats and its allies 20 more.

Annadurai became the DMK's first chief minister though he had won a Lok Sabha seat at the same time from South Madras.

The DMK won 181 assembly seats in 1971, allying with the Congress without giving the party any assembly seat to contest though it had given 10 seats to CPI.

The DMK then won 12 of the 14 Chennai seats. Since then Chennai has been a DMK stronghold.

MGR split the DMK in 1971 and formed the AIADMK in 1972.

It was during the 1977 general election that the DMK offered its friendship to Indira Gandhi's Congress and the Congress-DMK combine won 37 Lok Sabha seats. But in Tamil Nadu MGR continued to dominate till his death in 1987.

In 1989, the DMK again split and the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) was formed.

In the early 1990s, V Gopalasamy or Vaiko walked out of the DMK to form the MDMK.

In Monday's elections, Karunanidhi is still leading the DMK. Its biggest ally is the Congress, once its greatest foe.

First Published: May 06, 2006 10:05 IST