PMK will stick to its decision to lead an alliance rather than join hands with regional or national party

As the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) entered its 25th year of existence on Tuesday, its founder-leader S. Ramadoss vowed to put an end to the rule of Dravidian parties in the State after the Assembly elections in 2016.

“The PMK broadened its base when it contested elections alone between 1989 and 1996. But its growth stagnated after it allied with the Dravidian parties,” he said in a statement here. It would stick to its decision to lead an alliance rather than join hands with any major regional or national party.

The PMK was established on July 16, 1989, after the Vanniyar Sangam, its parent organisation, succeeded in securing 20 per cent reservation for Most Backward Classes (MBCs) as a result of a prolonged struggle.

The PMK emerged a key player in the State’s politics after it closed ranks with the AIADMK-BJP combine in the 1998 Lok Sabha polls. It proved to be a promising start for a regional party as it could enter the Union Cabinet.

The AIADMK’s decision to pull out of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led to a snap poll in 1999. But the PMK chose to remain in the BJP’s company, and the DMK also joined the combination. In the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, both the DMK and PMK switched camps and became part of the Congress-led UPA at the Centre. Dr. Ramadoss’ son Anbumani was inducted into the Union Cabinet as minister for Health and Family Welfare.

Dr. Ramadoss, normally known for playing his cards cleverly, made two moves that cost him severely. The first was his decision to face the 2009 Lok Sabha polls along with the AIADMK-Left alliance. The decision came a cropper and it was routed in all the seven seats it contested. By the time Tamil Nadu was ready for the Assembly polls in 2011, Dr. Ramadoss decided to join the DMK, whose regime had become highly unpopular in the wake of allegations of land grabbing and the 2G spectrum scam. The DMK was reduced to the third position in the Assembly with 23 seats while the PMK had to be content with just three seats.

Even though he played a role in goading the government to bring in a common curriculum in schools in Tamil Nadu, successfully prevented agricultural lands being converted into industrial corridors and satellite towns and waging a relentless struggle for total prohibition, the PMK could not expand its base beyond its traditional turf.

He remained a bridge between the Dalits and intermediate communities, particularly the Vanniyar, in the Northern district. He talked about a pan-Tamil identity, the Sri Lankan Tamil cause, Tamil language, but ultimately had to fall back on his traditional plank of Vanniyar mobilisation. It remains to be seen whether his new strategy will be a trump card.

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