For over fifty years now, Tamil Nadu has been ruled alternately by two Dravidian parties, namely DMK and AIADMK. Before the Dravidian parties came to power, Tamil Nadu was under the rule of the Congress party, experiencing a golden era under K. Kamaraj, who was succeeded by Bhaktavatsalam for a short period.
Despite Kamaraj’s quality governance, DMK succeeded in defeating the Congress party, winning the election by fueling anti-Hindi sentiments and promoting the so-called Dravidian identity. With powerful speakers on their side and the popular matinee idol M.G. Ramachandran being part of DMK, along with Rajaji, highly admired for his intelligence, supporting DMK and lending it political respectability, the Congress was defeated and never regained power. Perhaps Rajaji supported DMK, placing his faith in the DMK founder C.N. Annadurai and his broader vision. Unfortunately, Annadurai passed away after a short tenure as Chief Minister, and DMK came under the control of leaders with less stature and a weaker value system than C.N. Annadurai.
For the last fifty years, with DMK and AIADMK alternating in power, there has been a steady decline in public life in Tamil Nadu. Corruption, the rapid spread of liquor consumption, and the resulting disruption of the family life of the poor have caused significant suffering, with hate becoming increasingly prevalent. Other political parties, including the Communist Party, which is supposed to uphold certain philosophical ideals, have played a subordinate role to the Dravidian parties, often aligning themselves with one or the other without much regard for principles and values. Consequently, the two Dravidian parties dominate the state, while other parties are caste-oriented, and national parties like the Communist Party and Congress have lost their foothold.
Today, Tamil Nadu is known for the unfortunate distinction of the state government earning around Rs. 50,000 crore annually from liquor sales and having the highest number of liquor addicts among all states in the country. Tamil Nadu’s financial condition is extremely precarious, with the state holding the highest outstanding debt among all states in the country.
With political and administrative corruption reaching intolerable levels, and people becoming disillusioned with both Dravidian parties, these parties resort to tactics such as distributing freebies to voters before elections and engaging in widespread corruption during the electoral process by bribing innocent voters from lower-income groups.
Now, there is widespread sentiment in the state that Tamil Nadu urgently needs an alternative to the two Dravidian parties to regain its reputation as the most forward-looking state in the country. Many discerning voters believe it is high time for a nationalist party to establish a strong presence in Tamil Nadu.
In such circumstances, K. Annamalai, a young man with an impressive academic record and an excellent service record as a police officer, has assumed leadership of the BJP in Tamil Nadu. Many people are starting to believe that this is the change that Tamil Nadu needs today. However, people need to be convinced that Annamalai can rise to the occasion and meet the people’s expectations of restoring quality governance in Tamil Nadu, a standard set by Kamaraj, who is widely regarded as a role model in the state today.
In this scenario, until recently, there were speculations that the BJP, led by Annamalai, would form an alliance with AIADMK in the upcoming parliamentary election. Such news disappointed many, as it seemed Annamalai might follow the path of the two other nationalist parties, the Congress and the Communists. Of course, Annamalai has sporadically criticized both DMK and AIADMK for their misdeeds and corrupt administration, creating an impression that he is uncomfortable aligning with AIADMK.
Now, there is good news: the AIADMK party is displeased with Annamalai due to his critical remarks against the party and has announced the termination of the alliance proposal.
The ground reality, based on past performance records, is that there is often little to differentiate between DMK and AIADMK. Annamalai now has an opportunity to dispel the notion that the BJP might be opportunistic in aligning with AIADMK.
Annamalai’s ongoing padayatra has garnered enthusiastic support from the people, and there are high expectations that he will stand firm on his principles, reflecting the governance standards set by Prime Minister Modi and, earlier, by K. Kamaraj. People hope that Annamalai will continue his vigorous campaign against both Dravidian parties and offer hope and opportunity to Tamil Nadu voters in the forthcoming parliamentary election, reigniting Tamil Nadu politics with a nationalistic fervor and starting anew to restore the glory of Kamaraj’s governance.