ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Reinforcing Dravidian Identity Politics in Tamil Nadu

Verdict 2019

The Lok Sabha election results in Tamil Nadu clearly show the reconsolidation of the caste base and minorities and reinforcement of the Dravidian Tamil identity politics. The victory of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam establishes the second round of ideological discourse on linguistic cultural nationalism, secularism, and the regional aspirations within the framework of Hindutva. The election results in some ways indicate the reassertion of Dravidian identities and the key role for the Dravidian parties in the politics of the state.

The 2019 Lok Sabha election was seen as an important one in Tamil Nadu for several reasons. First, both the Dravidian parties, that is, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) had lost their influential leaders and this election was a test to determine who would inherit their respective legacies. Second, after the death of the AIADMK General Secretary and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa there was a split in the AIADMK. Would any one group inherit her legacy was the crucial question. Third, would the same caste polarisation of Vanniyar, Gounder, Thevar and Nadar against Dalits and Muslims help the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to establish its footprints in Tamil Nadu politics was also a question to which the answer was awaited.

The BJP was not able to make inroads into the south except in Karnataka. In 2014, it forged an alliance—the “new social coalition,” with smaller regional parties and could win only two seats with the AIADMK winning 37 of the 39 seats (Ramajayam 2017: 167–82). In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections two strategic alliances were formed. One led by the DMK which included the Congress, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India–(Marxist) CPI(M), Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), Indhiya Jananayaga Katchi (IJK) and Kongunadu Makkal Desia Katchi (KMDK). The AIADMK entered into an alliance and included the Paattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) and Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) in their fold. The DMK-led alliance swept the polls by winning all but one seat (Table 1, p 24).

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Updated On : 2nd Aug, 2019

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