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

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Tamil Nadu : Shifting Alliances

When the DMK and the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) finally decided to part ways, no one was really surprised. It had always been a marriage of convenience. They had joined forces in the wake of the NDA-moved confidence motion at the centre in 1999. Ditched by its erstwhile partners – the TMC, the JD and the left parties which voted against the motion – the DMK was looking for new partners and the PMK responded to its overtures. Even in its initial days, there was much speculation that the alliance would be short-lived and ‘politically incompatible’. These prognostications have now been borne out, with the PMK’s break with the DMK and the resignation of its ministers from the NDA government at the centre.

When the DMK and the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) finally decided to part ways, no one was really surprised. It had always been a marriage of convenience. They had joined forces in the wake of the NDA-moved confidence motion at the centre in 1999. Ditched by its erstwhile partners – the TMC, the JD and the left parties which voted against the motion – the DMK was looking for new partners and the PMK responded to its overtures. Even in its initial days, there was much speculation that the alliance would be short-lived and 'politically incompatible'. These prognostications have now been borne out, with the PMK's break with the DMK and the resignation of its ministers from the NDA government at the centre.

The tensions were evident in 1999 itself over seat allocations in the Lok Sabha elections. With the PMK-TRC combination claiming nine seats, the BJP and MDMK, the other members of the DMK-led alliance in Tamil Nadu, were left with just 11 seats. This displeased both parties which felt the PMK had gained at their expense. The DMK justified the seats sharing on the ground that the PMK had to be rewarded for not joining the rival AIADMK-led front and considering that the PMK had a significant presence in northern and western Tamil Nadu. This admission of PMK's clout meant a reversal of the DMK's earlier stand vis-a-vis that party. Karunanidhi had earlier rejected the PMK's offers of support in the general elections in 1989, 1991 and 1996 as he feared that the DMK would lose the support of Adi Dravidars if it came close to the PMK. But the results of Lok Sabha elections since 1989 have shown that there has been a steady rise in the PMK's vote-share in the northern/north-western parts of the state, reflecting a shift of the Vanniyar vote-bank from the traditional parties to the PMK, a new regional political outfit.

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