All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) (அண்ணா திராவிட முன்னேற்ற கழகம்) (lit. All India Anna Dravidian Progress Federation) is a state political party in the states of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, India. It is currently in power in Tamil Nadu. It is a Dravidian party founded by M.G. Ramachandran (popularly known as MGR) in 1972 as a breakaway faction of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). Since 1989, AIADMK is headed by J. Jayalalithaa, the current Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. The party headquarters is in Royapettah, Chennai, and was gifted to the party in 1986 by its former leader Janaki Ramachandran, wife of MGR. The party headed its coalition to win the Tamil Nadu assembly election 6 times to head the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly.
MGR era (1972-1987)
The party was founded in 1972 as Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK) by MGR, a veteran Tamil film star and a popular politician, as a breakaway faction of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) led by M. Karunanidhi, the then chief minister of Tamil Nadu, owing to serious differences between the two. Later, the party leaders prefixed All India (AI) tag before the party name. Since its inception, the relationship between the AIADMK and DMK has been marked with mutual contempt. MGR used his fan network for building the party cadre and estimates claim his party recruited more than a million members from the first two months of creation. The party tasted victory for the first time by winning the Dindigul parliamentary by-election in 1973 and also won the Coimbatore assembly by-election a year later. AIADMK grew close to the Congress by supporting the Emergency which occurred between 1975 and 1977.
The DMK-led government was dismissed by a Central promulgation of corruption charges in 1976. The party came to power in 1977 after trouncing DMK in the assembly elections. MGR was sworn in as the 7 Chief Minister of the state on 30 June 1977. MGR remained in power for ten years till his death in December 1987 winning three consecutive assembly elections held in 1977, 1980 and 1984.
In 1979, AIADMK became the first Dravidian and regional party to be part of the Union Cabinet, when two AIADMK MP‘s, Satyavani Muthu and Aravinda Bala Pajanor, joined the short-lived Charan Singh Ministry which followed the Moraji Desai-led Janata Party government of 1977-79.
Relations between the Congress and the AIADMK slowly became strained. In the mid-term parliamentary elections of January 1980, the Congress aligned with the DMK and the alliance won 37 out of the 39 parliamentary seats in the state; the AIADMK won just two seats. After returning to power, the new Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, dismissed a number of state governments belonging to the opposition parties, including the AIADMK government. Elections to the state assembly were held in late May 1980 with the opposition DMK continuing the electoral alliance with the Congress. In a massive reverse of fortunes following its humbling in the Lok Sabha elections, the AIADMK won a comfortable majority in the state assembly by winning 129 seats out of 234 and MGR was sworn in as chief minister for the second time on 9 June 1980.
In 1984, even with MGR’s failing health and subsequent hospitalization abroad, the party managed to win the assembly elections in alliance with the Congress. Many political historians consider MGR’s persona and charisma at this point of time as “infallible”, and a logical continuation of his on-screen “good lad” image, strengthened by his “mythical status” in the minds of the masses. MGR continued to enjoy popular support in his third tenure, which ended with his demise on 24 December 1987.
Succession crisis (1987-1989)
Following MGR’s death, his wife, actress-turned-politician Janaki Ramachandran rose to the party’s leadership and led the government for 24 days as the state’s 1 woman Chief Minister until the state assembly was suspended in January 1988 and President’s rule imposed. The party, in the absence of a personality of MGR’s calibre, began to crumble, with infighting, and broke into two factions, one under Janaki Ramachandran and the other under J. Jayalalithaa, another film actress-turned-politician who had starred with MGR in many movies and an associate of MGR. The assembly elections in 1989 saw the DMK regaining power after 12 years in the opposition with Karunanidhi returning as the Chief Minister for the 3 time. AIADMK, due to its split, suffered heavily in the elections, with the Janaki and Jayalalithaa factions winning only 2 and 27 seats respectively. Following AIADMK’s rout in the elections, the factions led by Jayalalithaa and Janaki merged under the former’s leadership. The DMK government was dismissed in 1990 by the Central Government led by Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar, an ally of the AIADMK at that time, with accusations that the constitutional machinery in the state had broken down.
Jayalalithaa era (1989-present)
The AIADMK allied with the Congress and swept to power in the assembly elections of 1991 under the leadership of Jayalalithaa, who became the 2 woman Chief Minister and the 10 Chief Minister of the state. Many political observers have ascribed the landslide victory to the anti-incumbent wave arising out of the assassination of the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by suspected Tamil separatists fighting for a homeland in neighbouring Sri Lanka. The ensuing government, including Jayalalithaa, was accused of large-scale corruption, but Jayalalithaa managed to hold on to power for a full term of five years. In the 1996 assembly election, AIADMK continued its alliance with the Congress but suffered a massive rout, winning only 4 out of the 234 assembly seats, with even Jayalalithaa losing from Bargur.
The AIADMK formed an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Vaiko‘s Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), another breakaway faction of the DMK, during the parliamentary elections in 1998. AIADMK shared power with the BJP in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee headed government between 1998-1999, but withdrew support a year later, leading to the fall of the BJP government at the centre. Following this, the AIADMK once again aligned with the Congress.
In the 2001 assembly election, the AIADMK-led alliance, consisting of the Congress, the Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC), the Left Front and the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), regained power, winning 197 seats, with AIADMK winning 132 of them. Due to the proceedings in a disproportionate assets case which occurred in her previous tenure, she was prevented from holding office. O. Panneerselvam, a close confidant of Jayalalithaa, was appointed as the chief minister on 21 September 2001. Once the Supreme Court overturned Jayalalithaa’s conviction and sentence in the case, Panneerselvam resigned on 2 March 2002, and Jayalalithaa was sworn in again as Chief Minister.
Unlike her 1 term, her 2 term was not marred by corruption scandals. She took many popular decisions such as banning of lottery tickets, restricting the liquor and sand quarrying business to government agencies and banning tobacco product sales near schools and colleges. She encouraged women to join the state police force by setting up all women-police stations and commissioning 150 women into the elite level police commandos in 2003, a first in India. They underwent the same training as their male counterparts, covering the handling of weapons, detection and disposal of bombs, driving, horseriding, and adventure sports. She sent a special task force to the Satyamangalam forests in October 2004 to hunt down notorious sandalwood smuggler Veerappan. The operation was successful as Veerappan was finally killed by the task force on 18 October 2004.
However despite the popular measures taken by the government, in the 2004 Lok Sabha election, the party, in alliance with the BJP again, was humiliated, not even winning any of the 39 Lok Sabha seats from the state. The Democratic Progressive Alliance (DPA), a DMK-led alliance consisting of all the major opposition parties in the state, swept the election. Later, in the 2006 assembly election, in spite of media speculations of a hung assembly, the AIADMK, contesting with only the support of MDMK and a few other smaller parties, won only 61 seats and was pushed out of power by the DMK-led alliance comprising the Congress, the PMK and the Left Front. AIADMK’s poor electoral performance continued in the 2009 Lok Sabha election, which it contested as a member of the Left Front led United National Progressive Alliance. However the party’s performance was slightly better compared to 2004, as it managed to win 9 seats.
Following widespread corruption and allegations of nepotism by the DMK government, in the 2011 assembly election, the party, continuing its alliance with the Left Front and also with new allies like actor-turned-politician Vijayakanth‘s Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), stormed back to power, winning 202 seats, with the AIADMK alone winning 150. Jayalalithaa was sworn in as Chief Minister for the 3 time. In the union territory of Puducherry, the party allied with N. Rangasamy‘s All India NR Congress (AINRC) and won the 2011 assembly election which was held in parallel with the Tamil Nadu assembly election. However, it did not join the newly elected AINRC-led government.
Expansion beyond Tamil Nadu and Puducherry
Under Jayalalithaa’s regime, AIADMK has spread out beyond Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and state units have been established in the states of Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The party floated 54 candidates across the state of Kerala in the 2006 assembly election and had contested on its own. In Karnataka the party had members in the state assembly and has influence in the Tamil-speaking areas of Bangalore and Kolar district. AIADMK has its following in various other places like Mumbai and Delhi. There are also units in various countries where the Tamil population is spread out.
The ADMK moved from the anti-Hindi and anti-Brahman stand of the DMK party ideologies formulated by Annadurai. MGR indicated he never “favored anti-Brahminism and ADMK would oppose ethnic exclusion”. Two Brahmin ladies Janaki and Jayalalitha were later fighting for the lead position. The ADMK sought to depoliticize the education policy of the government by not insisting on the medium of education to be Tamil language. Policies of ADMK were targeted to the poorer segments of Tamil society – poor, rickshaw pullers, and destitute women and centralizing the massive noon meal scheme for children. There was ambivalent approach towards the reservation policy and interest of farmers.