As some celebrate the golden jubilee and some revisit the past history of the state, which on Monday entered the golden jubilee year of Dravidian rule, and that too during a period of political uncertainty, one cannot stop defining the shift as tectonic, given the political and social changes the state had gone through.
During the politically eventful 50 years, fierce political rivals like Congress and DMK have become friends or rather allies (not just once) many a time, colleagues like Stalin and Vaiko and most recently O Panneerselvam and Edappadi Palanisamy or rather Sasikala have turned against each other and once a formidable political force like Left parties have been reduced to becoming fringe players.
In this time frame, a few players like Ramadoss’ PMK, Vaiko’s MDMK, Moopanar’s TMC and with them Tirmavalavan’s VCK, Dr Krishnasamy’s Puthiya Tamizhagam and recently Vijayakanth’s DMDK had ‘sprouted’ and even briefly tasted ‘some’ power. However, the dichotomy of Dravidian majors DMK and AIADMK, which seemed a little disturbed after chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s death, has not died down.
As much as it is timely to document the longevity of the two Dravidian parties, it is imperative to chronicle the political change witnessed in Dravidian party rule. In doing so, one would find some glaring similarities and aberrations between 1967 and 2017. Politically, the DMK and AIADMK had heretofore successfully kept the national parties out of reckoning, and used them sparingly in the electoral numbers game.
Socially, the two parties would be appreciated and criticised for the mixed changes they have ushered in. For instance, social justice (reservation to OBCs and SC/ STs (compartmental reservation for Arundathiyar’s) and welfare schemes like nutritious meal scheme, 108 ambulance, universal PDS (free rice), all-caste archakas, farm loan waiver and free higher education for first generation graduates would stand out among the positive changes they had created in people’s lives.
In the same breath, the two parties would be remembered for fancy freebies and securing a prime spot for Tamil Nadu in the national corruption map. Dravidian scholar Sangoli K Thirunavukkarasu who took exception to classifying AIADMK regime as part of Dravidian rule and conceded that they have yet to deliver fully on their promises says; “DMK was the political wing of DK. Tamil nationalism won when DMK defeated Congress in 1967. Today, Congress allies with powerful Dravidian parties to stay politically relevant.
DMK remains ideologically committed, but AIADMK upheld social justice only under political compulsion. AIADMK does not oppose Sanskrit or Hindi and hence BJP’s Venkiah Naidu says they are AIADMK’s alternative,” before clarifying that jallikattu and hydrocarbon protests as democratic public dissent stemming not out of hatred for contemporary politicians.
Refusing to blame Dravidian movement for the political degeneration, especially lack of probity in public life, veteran communist leader R Nallakannu says, “Back then politicians feared people. Even when politicians failed, official corrected the course.
Anna followed Periyar’s path and he cautioned ministers not to run business privately. His policy was protecting Tamil rights, culture and heritage besides upholding state’s rights. Karunanidhi took some principled steps too, but ideological compromises started with him.
Private educational institutions mushroomed during the regime of MGR, who also feared and respected people. It was in the regime that followed (Jayalalithaa) that people started fearing politicians and officials, who were equally indifferent. Politics shifted from being ideology to individual centric. Corruption has become an integral part of the administration now.”