17th September 1949: Political Party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) was Founded


On 17th September 1949, the state political party of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) which means “Dravadian Progress Federation” was founded by C.N Annadurai. The DMK was founded as a breakaway party from the Dravidar Kazhagam. The DMK, currently headed by M Karunanidhi (former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu) and is the only other party other than the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to win a state-level election with a vast majority by itself in any state of the country.


The DMK found its origins in the South Indian Liberal Federation (Justice Party) founded in 1916 by Dr. P.T Rajan, Dr. C. Natesa Mudaliar and P. Thyagaraya Chetty, among others. The Justice Party’s vision included social justice and equality won the 1920 General Elections in the Madras Presidency and came to power. E.V Ramasami Naicker, a well known Tamil Reformist of his time joined the Indian National Congress (INC) to protest against the most of the leadership belonging to the Brahmin caste. In 1935, Naicker left the INC and became part of the Justice Party. In 1937 the Justice Party lost the elections and the INC led by C. Rajagopalachari (also known as Rajaji) formed the government in the Madras Presidency. Rajaji’s introduction of Hindi as a compulsory subject in schools gave rise to the anti-Hindi rebellion and was led by Naicker and his followers.


In August 1944, Naicker carved the Dravida Kazhagham out of the Justice Party, though the Dravida Kazhagham was started as a movement and not a political party. The Dravida Kazhagham wanted an independent country for Dravidians, which would be called Dravida Nadu and which would include areas of the Madras Presidency.


After many disagreements between Naicker and other party members over the years in 1949 many party members led by C. Annadurai parted ways with the Dravida Kazhagham after an elderly Naicker married a young woman Maniammai and named her his successor to lead the party. On 17th September 1949, Dr. P.T Rajan, Dr. C. Natesa Mudaliar and P. Thyagaraja Chetty along with E.V.K Sampath and N.V Natarajan among others announced the formation of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Chennai.


Famous Tamil film actor M.G Ramachandran (popularly known as MGR) became part of the DMK and promoted the party and its message through his films. Soon MGR began to be looked at as an icon for the DMK. MGR made a rather unsuccessful debut into politics in 1957. Initially even though Annadurai wanted a separated Dravidian nation, he changed his opinion after the Sino-Indian war in 1962 and supported Indian throughout the war. After the war ended, Annadurai’s patriotic feelings were so deep that he gave up his demand for a separate country.


In 1965 in response to the anti-Hindi turmoil the Central Government gave up its efforts to impose Hindi as the National Language of the country. The DMK finally came to power in the Madras Province in 1967, which marked the beginning of the Dravidian phase of the Madras Province which later became Tamil Nadu.


In 1969, following the death of Annadurai, there was a tussle for power between M. Karunanidhi and V.R Nedunchezhiyan. Most members of the DMK preferred Karunanidhi as their leader in comparison to Nedunchezhiyan. To satisfy both, a new post of the General Secretary was created, which was given to Nedunchezhiyan and Karunanidhi was made the Party President. MGR was made the treasurer of the party.


In 1971 the DMK contested the elections in an alliance with the Congress and won the election with a large majority, with Karunanidhi becoming the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for the second time.


By 1972, following a disagreement with party members, MGR boycotted the party’s General Council and was later suspended from it. MGR later founded the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). In 1977 the DMK had lost the elections to the AIADMK and didn’t return to power until 1987. In December 1987, following the death of MGR, the AIADMK was divided between MGR’s wife Janaki and Jayalalithaa. By 1989 the DMK had returned to power and Karunanidhi had become the Chief Minister. The AIADMK won the elections in 1991 following the assassination of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Jayalalithaa became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.


In 2004 the DMK formed an alliance with the Congress and won all 40 seats. But by 2009 the DMK had lost again because of charges against them relating to the large Tamil death toll in Sri Lanka and the corruption charges against the telecom minister in Parliament, relating to the 2G scam. In 2011 the DMK lost again to the AIADMK and Jayalalithaa again became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.


The DMK’s ideology includes social democracy, populist and democratic socialism and the party’s election symbol is a sun rising between two mountains, called the rising sun.


Also on This Day:


1879: E.V Ramasami Naicker was born.

1982: India and Ceylon played their first cricket test match.

1915: Renowned painter and film director, MF Hussain was born.

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