ABCD of Tamil Nadu Politics: A Ready Reckoner

DMK and AIADMK have been the predominant Dravidian parties that have influenced state politics in Tamil Nadu.

Published
Politics
6 min read
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, DMK leader Karunanidhi, DMDK leader Vijayakanth, and MDMK leader Vaiko. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

Understanding the alphabet soup that is Tamil Nadu politics can be difficult for many. Here is a ready reckoner of the basics.

The state has 234 MLA seats, 39 Lok Sabha and 19 Rajya Sabha seats.

The Rivals

DMK Rally. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)
DMK Rally. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

1. DMK – Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (Dravidian Progress Federation)
Important leaders: Kalaingar M Karunanidhi, MK Stalin

A Dravidian party formed in 1949 by CN Annadurai as a breakaway faction from the Dravidar Kazhagam headed by EV Ramasamy, popularly known as Periyar. The Dravidar Kazhagam was formed from the Justice Party in 1944. Karunanidhi has headed the party since 1969 and has been the Chief Minister of the state 5 times so far. His son, MK Stalin, is believed to be the heir apparent of the party.

Karunanidhi’s second son is former Union Minister MK Alagiri who has been dismissed from the party. His daughter is Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi. In the 2011 assembly polls, DMK was in alliance with Congress, PMK, VCK, KMK. While for 2014 general elections, DMK went in alliance with VCK, MMK, IUML and Puthiya Tamizhagam.

Seats in Lok Sabha: 0
Seats in Rajya Sabha: 4
Seats in the Legislative Assembly: 23
Vote share in 2014: 23.6%
Vote share in 2011: 22.3%

2. AIADMK – All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (All India Anna Dravidian Progress Federation)
Important leader: J Jayalalithaa

A Dravidian party founded by MG Ramachandran (popularly known as MGR) in 1972 after it broke away from the DMK. Jayalalithaa has headed the party since 1989 and remains the single power-centre of the party. Despite of her tryst with the law, she is considered a strong contender.

AIADMK was not in alliance with any major political party during the 2014 general elections. In 2011 assembly polls, the party chose alliance with DMDK, CPI, CPM, MMK, PT and AIFB. It has still not decided the alliance for the 2016 assembly elections.

Seats in Lok Sabha: 37
Seats in Rajya Sabha: 11
Seats in the Legislative Assembly: 151
Vote share in 2014: 44.3%
Vote share in 2011: 38.4%

DMDK leader Vijayakanth. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)
DMDK leader Vijayakanth. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

3. DMDK – Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (National Progressive Dravidian Federation)
Important Leader: Captain Vijayakanth

DMDK was formed in 2005 by Tamil actor Vijayakanth. It formed an alliance with AIADMK coalition for 2011 assembly polls and was a part of the BJP alliance for 2014 general elections. Though the party is not considered a major threat to the two Dravidian majors, it is seen as an important ally due to its vote share and strongholds in certain areas of Tamil Nadu.

Seats in Lok Sabha: 0
Seats in Rajya Sabha: 0
Seats in the Legislative Assembly: 20
Vote share in 2014: 5.1%
Vote share in 2011: 7.8%

4. MDMK – Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (Renaissance Dravida Progressive Federation)
Important Leader: Vaiko (V Gopalsamy)

MDMK was formed by Vaiko in 1994, a former DMK leader. MDMK has contested in alliance with several parties including the AIADMK and DMK. The party was at the forefront of the movement to support Tamils in Sri Lanka. The party is now a part of a political alliance called the People’s Welfare Alliance (PWA) for 2016 polls. MDMK had boycotted the 2011 assembly elections, while it was part of the NDA alliance in 2014 general elections.

Seats in Lok Sabha: 0
Seats in Rajya Sabha: 0
Seats in the Legislative Assembly: 0
Vote share in 2014: 3.5%

5. PMK – Pattali Makkal Katchi
Important leaders: S Ramadoss, Anbumani Ramdoss

The party was founded in 1989 by Dr. S Ramadoss. His son Anbumani Ramadoss is a Lok Sabha MP from Dharmapuri, and has pitched himself as a Chief Ministerial candidate for 2016 elections. The party is strong in certain parts of northern Tamil Nadu, and draws its strengths from the Vanniyar community.

It was part of DMK alliance in 2011 assembly elections and fought 2014 general elections along with BJP.

Seats in Lok Sabha: 1
Seats in Rajya Sabha: 0
Seats in the Legislative Assembly: 3
Vote share in 2014: 4.4%
Vote share in 2011: 3%

The Contenders

Mutharasan, G Ramakrishnan and Thol Thirumavalavan of People’s Welfare Front (PWF) along with MDMK leader Vaiko. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)
Mutharasan, G Ramakrishnan and Thol Thirumavalavan of People’s Welfare Front (PWF) along with MDMK leader Vaiko. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

6. VCK – Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (Liberation Panther Party)
Important leader: Thol Thirumavalavan

VCK, a Dalit community based political party formed in 1988 is now a part of the PWA. It was a part of DMK alliance in 2011, while in 2014 it was a part of Democratic Progressive Alliance including DMK, PT, MMK, IUML and Congress.

Seats in Lok Sabha: 0
Seats in Rajya Sabha: 0
Seats in the Legislative Assembly: 0
Vote share in 2014: 1.5%
Vote share in 2011: 1.5%

7. CPI – Communist Party of India
State Secretary: R Mutharasan

The state unit of the CPI has a strong presence in the delta districts of TN. In 2014, CPI and CPM contested together while for 2011, it was part of an alliance with ADMK.

Seats in Lok Sabha: 0
Seats in Rajya Sabha: 1
Seats in the Legislative Assembly: 8
Vote share in 2014: 0.5%
Vote share in 2011: 1.9%

8. CPM – Communist Party of India (Marxist)
State Secretary: G Ramakrishnan

This state unit of the CPM was in alliance with CPI in 2014 and in 2011, it was part of ADMK alliance.

Seats in Lok Sabha: 0
Seats in Rajya Sabha: 1
Seats in the Legislative Assembly: 10
Vote share in 2014: 0.5%
Vote share in 2011: 2.4%

Tamil Nadu Congress Committee President EVKS Elangovan and his BJP counterpart Tamilisai Soundararajan. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)
Tamil Nadu Congress Committee President EVKS Elangovan and his BJP counterpart Tamilisai Soundararajan. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

9. Congress – Indian National Congress
State leader: EVKS Elangovan

Before the Dravidian parties swept the state in the 60s, the Congress was the most influential party in the state under the leadership of Kamaraj. In 2011, the party was in alliance with DMK, while in 2014, it contested alone.

Seats in Lok Sabha: 0
Seats in Rajya Sabha: 1
Seats in the Legislative Assembly: 5
Vote share in 2014: 4.3%
Vote share in 2011: 9.3%

10. BJP – Bharatiya Janata Party
State leader: Tamilisai Soundararajan

This is the state unit of the BJP, and has had a strong hold in just one district – Kanyakumari. It fought alone in 2011 assembly elections and was in alliance with PMK in 2014 general elections.

Seats in Lok Sabha: 1
Seats in Rajya Sabha: 0
Seats in the Legislative Assembly: 0
Vote share in 2014: 5.5%
Vote share in 2011: 2.2%

11. MMK – Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (People’s Conference Party)
Leader: MH Jawahirullah

MMK was formed in 2009 and entered into an alliance with ADMK for the 2011 Assembly polls and was allocated 3 seats. It was a part of DPA for 2014 elections. The party has a stronghold on the Muslim community.

Seats in Lok Sabha: 0
Seats in Rajya Sabha: 0
Seats in the Legislative Assembly: 2
Vote share in 2014: 0.6%
Vote share in 2011: 0.49%

12. PT – Puthiya Tamizhagam
Leader: Dr. K Krishnasamy

The party was founded in 1996 by Dr. Krishnasamy. It formed an alliance with ADMK for the 2011 assembly elections and got 2 seats. It was a part of DPA in 2014.

Seats in Lok Sabha: 0
Seats in Rajya Sabha: 0
Seats in the Legislative Assembly: 2
Vote share in 2014: 0.6%
Vote share in 2011: 0.4%

13. KNMK – Kongu Nadu Munnetra Kazhagam
Leader: ‘Best’ S Ramasamy

The party was founded in 2001 and has a stronghold over the Kongu vellalars community. It contested 7 seats in 2011 assembly elections in alliance with DMK and lost all.

Seats in Lok Sabha: 0
Seats in Rajya Sabha: 0
Seats in the Legislative Assembly: 0

14. SMK – Samathuva Makkal Katchi
Leader: R. Sarathkumar

Founded in 2007 by Sarathkumar the party has the backing of the Nadar community. It contested and won two seats in the 2011 assembly elections in alliance with ADMK.

Seats in Lok Sabha: 0
Seats in Rajya Sabha: 0
Seats in the Legislative Assembly: 0

(The writer Luke Koshi is associated with The News Minute.)

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