Lakhs of cadre voted for contesting general election
Tiruchi city has a special place in the history of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), and it hopes that the upcoming Tiruchi conference will witness a turnaround in the party’s fortunes. It was at the second State conference in Tiruchi from May 17 to 20, 1956 that the DMK took the significant decision of jumping into electoral fray. The leadership and cadre were then in a dilemma over contesting the second general election scheduled in 1957.
The DMK, then only a three-year-old organisation, decided against participating in the first general election in 1952 to express its opposition to the drafting of the Constitution without ascertaining the views of the ‘Dravidians.''
Party founder C. N. Annadurai wanted to feel the pulse of the public on contesting the second general election during the second State conference at Tiruchi. Separate ‘ballot boxes’ were placed at the entrances of the conference venue. Each entrance sported two boxes, one favouring the contest and the other rejecting the idea. The visiting partymen were directed to express their views.
The ‘ballots’ were counted at the conference dais before the audience. While lakhs of cadre favoured a foray into the electoral fray, only a very few thousand ‘ballots’ opposed the idea. Encouraged by the verdict and having been satisfied over the self-evolved test, Anna made the historic announcement of DMK contesting the polls much to the delight of the party leaders and cadre alike. This decision marked a milestone for the DMK.
Thus, the Tiruchi decision was responsible for unseating the Congress regime in a phased manner, though it was a decade-long battle for the DMK to capture power in the State in 1967. Soon, the party conducted meetings to explain to the people the decision taken at the conference.
The DMK did put up candidates in the Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies in the 1957 elections. The DMK emerged victorious in 15 Assembly seats and two Parliamentary constituencies. Notable among those who entered the Assembly were Annadurai (Kancheepuram), K. Anbazhagan (Egmore), M. Karunanidhi (Kulithalai), A. V. P. Asaithambi (Thousand Lights) and Sathiavanimuthu (Perambur). V. R. Nedunchezhian (Salem), poet Kannadasan (Tirukkottiyur), S. S. Rajendran (Theni) and Anbil Dharmalingam (Lalgudi) were among the losers.
In the 1962 elections, the DMK’s strength in the Assembly rose to 50 and in the next elections held in 1967 it captured power in the state.