The resignation of five Union Ministers, belonging to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) from the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, has significantly brought down the State’s representation and reduced the clout it had enjoyed over the last decade at the Centre.
P. Chidambaram (Lok Sabha), G. K. Vasan and Jayanthi Natarajan (both Rajya Sabha) – all from Congress – are now the only Union Ministers from the State.
This is the first time since 1996, the Central Cabinet will have no representation from any of the Dravidian Parties, which have been ruling the State for the last almost five decades.
The Central Cabinet since Independence always comprised faces from Congress party alone.
Though the DMK captured power in the State with much ease in the 1967 and 1971 elections, besides winning a reasonable number of seats in the Lok Sabha elections, it did not show keen interest in participating in the Central Cabinet.
The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) too did not evince interest in playing a role in the decision-making process at the Centre, despite winning 17 seats in the 1977 Lok Sabha elections.
The actual participation of the Dravidian parties in coalition governments came only in 1979, when two AIADMK members – Mrs. Sathiyavanimuthu (Rajya Sabha) and Arvind Bala Pajanor (Lok Sabha MP elected from Puducherry Parliamentary constituency) were inducted as Cabinet Ministers in the short-lived Charan Singh government. The DMK first joined the Union Cabinet, when V. P. Singh formed a coalition government in 1989. Despite DMK drawing a blank in the 1989 Lok Sabha elections, Murasoli Maran, a Rajya Sabha member then, was inducted as Union Minister. The DMK was part of the subsequent coalition governments led by H. D. Deve Gowda and I. K. Gujral (1996-98).
In the first ever BJP-led coalition regime formed in 1998, three parties from Tamil Nadu – AIADMK, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) and Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), joined the government. However, the AIADMK’s presence in the Vajpayee Cabinet lasted only a few months.
In the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime (1999-2004), the DMK, the MDMK and the PMK had representations. In fact, it was in this Ministry that Tamil Nadu had the largest representation.
In the first UPA regime led by Manmohan Singh, Tamil Nadu was represented by a dozen Ministers, including six Cabinet Ministers, belonging to Congress, DMK and PMK. P. Chidambaram, Mani Shankar Aiyar, E. V. K. S. Elangovan (all Congress), T.R. Baalu, A. Raja, Dayanidhi Maran, S. S. Palanimanickam, S. Reghupathy, K. Venkatapathy and Subbulakshmi Jagadeesan (all DMK), Anbumani Ramadoss and R. Velu (PMK), were the representatives from Tamil Nadu. G. K. Vasan was later inducted into the Cabinet in 2006.
In the second UPA regime, nine Ministers, including five Cabinet Ministers – Congress two and DMK the rest seven were from Tamil Nadu. P. Chidambaram and G. K. Vasan were the congress representatives in the Cabinet, while M. K. Alagiri, A. Raja and Dayanidhi Maran, S. S. Palanimanickam, D. Napoleon, Gandhi Selvan and Jagathrakshakan were the DMK nominees. Of the seven DMK Ministers, two Cabinet Ministers A. Raja (Communication and Information Technology) and Dayanidhi Maran (Textiles) had to resign following the figuring of their names in the 2G scam.
The DMK did not evince in nominating representatives to replace both the Cabinet ministers, despite the willingness of Congress.