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

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Tamil Nadu and Its Discontents

As two film stars rush in to fill a political vacuum, the future direction of the state remains uncertain.

It has been a tumultuous two years in Tamil Nadu with the death of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader and former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, as well as the gradual withdrawal of nonagenarian leader of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) M Karunanidhi from public life. This has created a new vacuum in the polity. In a state where the cinematic world has long been a breeding ground for possible political leaders and where the line between reel and real life has been rather thin, it surprised no one that matinee idols Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan would stake their claims to fill that political vacuum.

In the past, political contestation in Tamil Nadu has been largely limited to the two Dravidian parties with other forces, including national parties and long-established parties with specific social bases hitching themselves to either of these parties’ bandwagons during elections. The Dravidian parties also perfected a system of patronage to go along with welfare-oriented governance, that included entrenched corruption, to consolidate themselves and remain dominant. They managed to effectively subordinate parties such as the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state despite supporting them at the centre in the past. But their system of patronage—consistent even as the Dravidian parties alternated in power—has always had its discontents.

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Updated On : 4th Mar, 2021
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