Tamil Nadu has been a major contributor to Congress success in Lok Sabha elections, an analysis of electoral data by The Hindu shows. In the last 45 years, every Congress victory at the Centre has involved the party winning nearly 30 or more seats in Tamil Nadu, always with an ally.
In 1967, when the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) swept the Lok Sabha election, the Congress won only three seats in the State. After that election, the latter has usually contested in an alliance with either the DMK (1971, 1980, 2004, 2009) or the AIADMK (1977, 1984-96, 1999). In 1998, the year that it went alone, the Congress won no seats.
These alliances have had an impact far beyond the State; for the past 25 years, Tamil Nadu has been one of the top two States contributing seats to a Congress pre-poll alliance in every election that brought the party to power, the analysis shows. While Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra are the next two big contributors to the Congress tally, the wins in the former came without an ally and in Maharashtra, in alliance with the party’s own offshoot, the Nationalist Congress Party, from 2004.
Tamil Nadu’s centrality to Congress success began from the late 1980s, show the data with the Election Commission. The three elections in the late 1990s when the Congress could not form the government were the only ones in which the party did poorly in Tamil Nadu, winning zero, zero and 13 seats, respectively. “It is very true that when the Congress fares poorly in Tamil Nadu, its chances of forming the government at the Centre are affected,” A. Gopanna, veteran Congress leader and Tamil Nadu Congress Committee executive committee member, says. But the situation is changing.MGR formula
AIADMK founder M.G. Ramachandran created the “MGR formula,” by which the Congress was allotted three-fourths of the constituencies in Lok Sabha elections and the State party the same proportion in the Assembly elections, Mr. Gopanna says.
This meant that the party’s performance in the Lok Sabha elections in the State became crucial. The DMK too was forced to follow this formula when the two struck an alliance.
“But things changed in 1996 after the advent of the Tamil Maanila Congress [a splinter group led by G.K. Moopanar]. Since then, Dravidian parties began to allot fewer and fewer seats to the party, even after the TMC merged with the Congress,” Mr. Gopanna says.
The importance Tamil Nadu held for the Congress has diminished over the years, he says. “So in the current context, post-poll alliances and performance in other parts of the country will matter.”