When Congress leader M. Bhakthavalsalam demitted the office of the Chief Minister on March 6, 1967, little did the people of Tamil Nadu know that he would be the last Chief Minister of the state from any national political party.
It was the advent of the Dravidian parties in Tamil Nadu with the DMK leader C.N. Annadurai becoming the Chief minister of the South Indian state, followed by a series of Chief ministers from the parties.
Fanning up Tamil nationalism and anti-Hindi outrage, the Dravidian parties became highly popular and continue to rule the state till date.
Now in 2021, for the Assembly polls Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited the state twice and a galaxy of senior BJP leaders ranging from Amit Shah to Nirmala Sitharaman have toured the state and attended umpteen public programmes. The scion of Gandhi family and former Congress president Rahul Gandhi is also criss-crossing the state.
However, the moot question is where do the two major national parties, the BJP and Congress, stand today in the state. While both the parties have stitched up coalition with prominent Dravida parties — AIADMK and DMK — respectively, the number of seats allocated to these national parties is abysmally low.
The BJP is contesting in 20 seats as part of the AIADMK coalition for the 234-member legislative Assembly and the Congress was allotted 25 seats by the DMK, again a meager presence.
The saffron party has not shown much strength in the electoral politics of Tamil Nadu and the AIADMK justifies that the BJP was not even able to retain its Kanyakumari Lok Sabha seat even after the candidate was a Union minister in the Narendra Modi cabinet.
The DMK has bluntly told the Congress leadership that the party wants to secure its MLAs and, hence the lesser number of seats. DMK leader and MP from Thoothukudi constituency, Kanimozhi has told media persons that the DMK wants all its front MLAs to stick together and not to jump the fence if a crisis arises in the post-poll scenario.
The Left parties, the CPM and CPI, even after being the national parties were allocated only 6 seats each by the DMK.
Actor turned politician, Kamal Haasan had accused the CPI and CPM of accepting money to the tune of Rs 15 crore and Rs 10 crore respectively in the last Lok Sabha elections from the DMK. The CPM politburo member from Tamil Nadu, G. Ramakrishna retorted and said that the money was spent for the expenses of the DMK cadres, who were campaigning for the Left candidates.
Interestingly, the national parties don’t have any other option other than accept the number of seats allocated to them and work silently at the grassroots.
With no immediate future for the national parties, the politics of Tamil Nadu is all set to be centred around the Dravidian parties.