As Tamil Nadu is gearing up for assembly elections to be held on April 6, it is imperative to examine the journey of democracy in the state. History of issues and leaders' approach will provide clarity in the posterity's plan of action.
Model administration, maladministration, wise decisions and poor decisions, Tamil Nadu has seen it all. People's measured verdict for all kinds of governance, their acceptance/rejection of previously rejected/accepted disposition and their espousal of new parties are testimony to their alacrity, brutal honesty, wariness and humaneness.
Here's a list of Tamil Nadu's previous elections with all its unique issues and interesting insights. Delving into the past 15 elections of Tamil Nadu could prepare the public for polls in the way politicians prepare through campaigning.
1) 1952 elections - Fall of Brahmin-centric politics and rise of linguistic patriotism
Too many factions in the Congress party was the first blow it took in Tamil Nadu politics. Kamaraj Congress, Prakasam Congress and Rajaji Congress were the prominent of those. Only on two occasions did Tamil Nadu have a hung assembly, second time in 2006 and 1952 was the first.
There was a huge uproar for language-based states across Madras. Rajaji for his compulsory Hindi policy in 1938 was already unpopular in this part of India. His 'Kulakalvi Thittam' further tarnished his image as he stepped down in 1954. Kamaraj who was hailed as 'Pachai Tamizhan' by 'Periyar' EV Ramasamy edged over Rajaji loyalist C Subramaniam. This event is seen as the watershed moment in Tamil Nadu politics bringing curtains to the Brahmin-dominant political spectrum.
With Andhra and Kerala demanding linguistic states and States Reorganisation act becoming a law in 1956, Kamaraj's clout as a popular Tamil and non-Brahmin leader grew leaps and bounds. Thus began what was later called Kamaraj's 'Porkaalam' or 'Golden era', which extended till 1963.
Did you know? : This is the first and last election held in the undivided Madras state after independence.
2) 1957 elections - DMK tests poll waters
One of the regional parties that Tamil Nadu will come to espouse, made its debut in 1957. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) was formed by CN Annadurai despite his guide Periyar's aversion towards electoral politics. Periyar's poll preference was anybody's guess given the bonhomie he shared with Kamaraj.
Along with DMK, another constant in Tamil Nadu politics emerged in the '57 election, M Karunanidhi. Muthuvel Karunanidhi's long and illustrious political life had a silent start however, with DMK winning just 15 seats including his victory. DMK contested this election as Independents as the party was unrecognised.
Kamaraj's image and policies made sure that this election was a no-competition.
Did you know? : This was the last election that had two-membered constituencies, one for a general member and other for an SC/ST member. This system was elided with Two-Member Abolition act in 1961.
3) 1962 elections - Annadurai's volte-face on Dravida Nadu and the backfiring of K-plan
As the erstwhile regions of Madras broke away to form linguistic states, the secessionistic demands of Dravida Nadu faded into obscurity. Annadurai's u-turn calling for "constitutional changes" to check the central government's "extraordinary powers" was the final nail in the coffin of the grand independent Dravida Nadu dream.
Kamaraj passed the bill to rename Madras to Tamil Nadu in 1962.
DMK consistently irked Periyar since its inception, this time around the party's alliance with Rajaji's Swatantra party riled Periyar. DMK formed a grand coalition with Swatantra, CPI, Muthuramalinga Thevar's Forward Bloc and "Quaid-e-Milleth" Mohammed Ismail's Indian Union Muslim League. Annadurai's DMK went from strength to strength becoming the opposition party in its very second election.
Kamaraj's K-plan was the even-homer-nods moment of his political career, the misstep in handing constitutional position to emerging leaders and seniors like himself taking up party posts caused displeasure among the public. Kamaraj's successor Bhaktavatsalam was no match for the irresistible force of DMK.
Did you know? : The '62 election was when cinema started to be identified as a powerful campaigning tool. Tamil star MG Ramachandran, popularly known as MGR, was pulling for DMK and Congress made a campaign-film "Vaakurimai".
4) 1967 election - Giant Congress and Giant killers DMK
CN Annadurai, fondly called as "Arignar Anna" became the first non-Congress Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. DMK had a perfect ground laid for unseating Congress. Madras officially becomes Tamil Nadu.
Anti-Hindi agitations of 1965, rise in prices of essential commodities under Bhaktavatsalam turned the tide towards DMK. Not to forget MGR getting shot by actor MR Radha ahead of elections handed the mandate to DMK. Popular poll promises like three padi rice (4.5 kilos) for one rupee, took DMK to the masses.
However, the resounding success of Annadurai was short-lived as he died in 1969. The CM post then was handed to VR Nedunchezian and then to M Karunanidhi. This four-year tenure (till 1971) has witnessed three Chief Ministers.
*Highest victory margin : Usilampatti constituency - Mookaiah Thevar (Forward Bloc) - 28,489 votes.
Lowest victory margin : Vanur constituency - AG Balakrishnan (DMK) - 70 votes.
Did you know ? : Many sitting MLAs including big-names in Congress like Kamaraj, Kakkan and Bhaktavatsalam lost the '67 elections. Of its 174 seats, DMK won 115 by 5000+ votes.
5) 1971 election - Internecine of DMK and Congress
DMK won its second consecutive election and its first with M Karunanidhi as its leader. Not just popular schemes but socially progressive schemes like Self Respect Marriage act during Anna tenure increased the party in stature.
M Karunanidhi's party administration caused displeasure among leaders like MGR, VR Nedunchezian and party's Dalit face Sathyavani Muthu. All of them exited the party, Nedunchezian stayed as education minister under Karunanidhi till 1975.
Despite friction between DMK leaders, the party trumped Congress as Kamaraj broke away from national leadership to form Indian Congress (Organisation). This move weakened Congress further. Kamaraj allied with Rajaji's Swatantra party setting aside their embittered past. Indira Congress supported DMK from the outside as the latter allied with left parties.
Highest victory margin : Usilampatti constituency - Mookaiah Thevar (Forward Bloc) - 32,383 votes
Lowest victory margin : Sankarapuram constituency - Natchiyappan (DMK) - 72 votes
Did you know? : Tall leaders of Tamil Nadu, K Kamaraj and C Rajagopalachari's (Rajaji) last elections. Both of them didn't contest. Post their demise their respective parties became listless.
6) 1977 election - The Karunanidhi-MGR rivalry begins
Actor MG Ramachandran who was a staunch supporter of DMK and follower of Anna was disgruntled with Karunanidhi and floated All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), setting off a fresh regional rivalry. Also the 1977 election marks the sidelining of national parties in Tamil Nadu politics.
DMK government was dismissed on January 31, 1976 citing non-cooperation under MISA during the infamous emergency period. MGR on the other hand, maintained a cordial relationship with Indira Gandhi and was supportive of emergency.
AIADMK had already fought successfully in the 1973 Dindigul bypolls. The new party put up a great show in its very first election to form a 130-member majority government.
Highest victory margin : Aruppukottai constituency - MG Ramachandran (AIADMK) - 29,378 votes
Lowest victory margin : Taramangalam constituency - R Narayanan (INC) - 19 votes
Did you know? : This is the last election that Indian National Congress (INC) fought alone. After the advent of DMK-AIADMK rivalry, Congress were only their Alliance partners.
7) 1980 election - Karunanidhi gets even with MGR
MGR had the habit of maintaining a warm relationship with the centre, no matter which party. This habit ended up being his achilles heel.
MGR extended a hand of friendship to the Morarji Desai government, while Karunanidhi cozied up with Indira Gandhi. Once Indira came back to power after the end of Desai's premature administration, she wasted no time in dismissing MGR's cabinet. Karunanidhi settled scores with MGR for 1976.
The state voted differently in the Parliamentary election and Assembly election in 1980. AIADMK floundered in the former with only 2 out of 39 seats and came back much stronger in the latter with 129 seats. MGR was once again the Chief Minister.
Highest victory margin : Andipatti constituency - SS Rajendran - 27,982 votes
Lowest victory margin : Ilayangudi constituency - Sivasamy (CPI) - 56 votes
Did you know? : Despite DMK leading the alliance, Congress contested in more number of seats than DMK in '80 election; DMK (112) Congress (114).
8) 1984 election - The election that MGR had last fought, Stalin had first fought and Karunanidhi had not fought
Karunanidhi has an unmatched election record of winning every time he contests. This time around, he gave the election a miss as he said he was grieving Indira Gandhi's demise and his friend-turned-foe in politics MGR's illness.
AIADMK was riding high on the sympathy wave in addition to Rajiv Gandhi's charisma. This was the first election BJP fought in Tamil Nadu.
The famous "MGR formula" was in application. According to this formula seats were shared in the ratio of 70:30 in favour of regional party in assembly elections and in favour of national party in parliamentary elections. MGR's man-friday RM Veerappan took care of the elections and ensured ADMK retained power for the third consecutive time.
Highest victory margin : Edappadi constituency - Govindasamy (INC) - 40,723 votes
Lowest victory margin : Saidapet constituency - Saidai Duraisamy (AIADMK) - 190 votes
Did you know? : This election witnessed the next generation leaders MK Stalin and J Jayalalithaa. Stalin didn't have an impressive debut as he lost in Thousand Lights constituency and Jayalalithaa surfaced on headlines during talks of MGR's heir apparent.
9) 1989 election - DMK ends its power-drought
The grand old Dravidian party escaped out of its neither-here-nor-there phase after 12 years. Thanks to an opposition marred by infighting, Karunanidhi became Tamil Nadu's CM for the third time.
Post MGR's demise AIADMK was torn between Janaki and Jayalalithaa factions. After the violence in the assembly during the floor test lost by Jayalalithaa, the AIADMK government was dismissed in 1988 and was under President's rule for an year. One of the main reasons for AIADMK's drubbing was, neither of the factions got "two leaves" symbol from the Election Commission.
Also, this election was on the heels of the second anti-Hindi agitation and DMK made the most of it.
Highest victory margin : Villivakkam constituency - Varadarajan (CPM) - 59,421 votes
Lowest victory margin : Kadaladi constituency - Ameeth Ibrahim (DMK) - 490 votes
Did you know? : Actor Shivaji Ganesan floated Thamizhaga Munnetra Munnani solely to back Janaki Ramachandran's faction, he quit Congress for supporting Jayalalithaa.
10) 1991 elections - No stopping the Jaya Juggernaut
The '89 cabinet was the shortest in the history of Tamil Nadu. But this was also a term that introduced ground-breaking laws. Karunanidhi brought in legislations on property rights for women and 30 percent of women representation in panchayat raj election.
Article 356 was invoked by the Chandra Shekhar government to dismiss the DMK government for "law and order deterioration". President rule was imposed from January to June 1991.
Despite all of the progressive laws, DMK wasn't able to tackle anti-incumbency successfully. ADMK was able to piece itself together while being out of power for two years. Janaki conceding her incompetence in politics, made way for Jayalalithaa. With AIADMK having no hurdle in getting back the "two leaves" symbol, the party was well-poised to face the election and emerge victorious.
AIADMK alliance had outflanked DMK by winning 225 seats, conceding just seven to the latter. Sympathy aroused by Rajiv Gandhi's assassination gave an unassailable majority to the Jaya-led government.
Higher victory margin : Thiruchengode constituency - Selvaganapathi (AIADMK) - 78,659 votes
Lowest victory margin : Harbour constituency - M Karunanidhi (DMK) - 890 votes
Did you know? : Jayalalithaa became the first woman Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. The newly started Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) by Ramadoss was the dark horse of this polls as the party ate into DMK's votes in northern districts.
11) 1996 elections - Karunanidhi gets even with Jayalalithaa
In a matter of five years AIADMK and DMK went into a role-reversal. AIADMK faced a similar decimation of DMK's 1991 election, in 1996.
Jayalalithaa's government was rife with graft accusations and the lavish wedding of her foster son Sudhakaran had raised eyebrows. The 1991-96 ADMK government was so unpopular that Jayalalithaa even lost her own seat.
'Superstar' Rajinikanth too joined the anti-AIADMK bandwagon and voiced his support for DMK-TMC (Tamil Maanila Congress). The overwhelming discontent towards AIADMK resulted in people unseating Jayalalithaa rather mercilessly.
Highest victory margin : Villivakkam constituency - Haroon Rasheed (TMC) - 1,47,747 votes
Lowest victory margin : Pennagaram constituency - GK Mani (PMK) - 406 votes
Did you know? : The 1991-96 term was when Tamil Nadu had its first complete tenure. This was the first election that Tamil Nadu had a BJP representative, C Velayudhan from Padmanabhapuram constituency.
12) 2001 election - Jayalalithaa finds her 'Bharathan' in OPS as TANSI case haunts her
The TANSI land acquisition case that had Jayalalithaa disqualified from contesting in 2001 elections wasn't just enough for the DMK to retain power.
Even the corruption case couldn't hamper AIADMK's landslide victory by a bit. ADMK got back to power comprehensively. Jayalalithaa was unanimously chosen as the Chief Minister by the party only to be disqualified by the Supreme Court.
Jayalalithaa handed the post to O Panneerselvam (OPS) while she dealt with the legal issue. On clearing her image off of corruption accusations, she was once again sworn in as the Chief Minister. Heaping praises on Panneerselvam, Jayalalithaa alluded him to Ramayana's Bharathan character for handing over power the way it was ceded.
Thanga Tamilselvan was asked to step down from his Andipatti constituency to make way for Jayalalithaa. She emerged victorious in the bye-election held in 2002, and Tamilselvan was made the Rajya sabha member.
Highest victory margin : Bargur constituency - Thambidurai M (AIADMK) - 49,306 votes
Lowest victory margin : Cuddalore constituency - Pugazhendi E (DMK) - 34 votes
Did you know? : Small parties named after MGR aligned with DMK (MGR ADMK and MGR Kazhagam). The best show put by BJP in Tamil Nadu till date, four MLAs and deposit retained wherever they contested.
13) 2006 election - An uncertain mandate
This election could easily be called the trickiest of Tamil Nadu elections. The state had a hung assembly after 58 years (1952 cabinet).
With Tsunami ravaging Tamil Nadu in 2004, Jayalalithaa's government rose to the occasion and tackled the crisis proactively. Jayalalithaa's crisis-management helped her to make up for the infamy caused by the TANSI case.
So the public opinion wasn't siding totally towards one party. Yet, DMK's manifesto placed the odds in its favour. Poll promises like free colour television for ration cards, one kilo rice for Re. 1 scheme tilted the balance towards DMK.
Highest victory margin : Tambaram constituency - Raja SR (DMK) - 48,752
Lowest victory margin : Singanallur constituency - Chinnaswamy R (AIADMK) - 14 votes
Did you know? : Despite DMK leading a hung assembly it didn't share cabinet posts with alliance partners. Though Vijayakanth and his party Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) didn't have a memorable maiden election, it was able to gain 8.4 percent vote share playing a spoilsport in AIADMK and DMK's chances in many constituencies.
14) 2011 election - Spectr(e)um beset DMK and Vijayakanth's rise to prominence
What 1996 election was for AIADMK 2011 election was for DMK. DMK was mired in corruption cases and the party earned ignominy due to alleged scam in providing 2G spectrum license.
Adding to DMK's woes, armed conflict between LTTE and Sri Lankan military reached its crescendo which resulted in deaths of Tamil people. DMK-Congress' UPA alliance was accused of lackluster efforts in drawing down tensions in the island nation.
Both DMK and AIADMK presented their manifestos replete with freebies. Nothing helped DMK as it even lost opposition party status to DMDK. Vijayakanth's party allied with AIADMK and fared really well, but their relationship hit a sour note. Jayalalithaa in the assembly had said she regretted teaming up DMDK.
Highest victory margin : Tiruppur constituency - Anandan MSM (AIADMK) - 73,271 votes
Lowest victory margin : Egmore constituency - Nallathambi K (DMDK) - 202 votes
Did you know? : Not just the embarrassing defeats but the 1996 and 2011 elections have another parallel, starpower. Just like actor Rajinikanth pulled for DMK in 1996, actor Vijay supported AIADMK in 2011, so much that his social welfare organisation had campaigned for the party.
15) 2016 election - Jayalalithaa-Karunanidhi era ends on a cliffhanger
Jayalalithaa had the last laugh in the 25-year-old rivalry against Karunanidhi. This was the last election both the leaders contested.
Jaya, in order to learn the popularity her party enjoys, had announced that she would align with only the parties that contest under the "two leaves" symbol.
This election also saw a third front led by Vijayakanth squaring off against the Dravidian giants. Also Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) led by director-turned-politician Seeman, who is a tub-thumper of a separate Eelam state for Tamils in Sri Lanka and Tamil nationalism in general, contested in its first election.
The election however was two-pronged, as both NTK and People's Welfare Front (alliance between DMDK, VCK, CPI, CPM and TMC) failed to make any inroads. Jayalalithaa registered a record of consecutive terms, only second to her mentor MGR.
Highest victory margin : Thiruvarur constituency - M Karunanidhi (DMK) - 68,366 votes
Lowest victory margin : Radhapuram constituency - IS Inbadurai (AIADMK) - 49 votes
Did you know? : AIADMK in 14 constituencies and DMK in nine had won with a margin below 1 percent. This election is the closest finish in Tamil Nadu's electoral history.
(*Note - No clear records of victory margin before 1967 elections)