Tamil Nadu

A look at the events leading up to the birth of AIADMK

The AIADMK party headquarters in Chennai. File photo.   | Photo Credit: M. Karunakaran

The establishment of the AIADMK, which entered the 50th year of its formation on Sunday, was triggered by an issue — probity in public life — which remains valid even today.

It all began on October 8 in Thirukazhukundram, about 75 km from Chennai, with the then treasurer of the ruling DMK, M.G. Ramachandran, urging town, taluk and district secretaries of the party to make public the details of their assets, according to a report published in The Hindu on October 9, 1972.

Pointing out that the demand was made at a “mammoth public meeting” in connection with the birth anniversary of the DMK’s founder and former Chief Minister, C.N. Annadurai, the report quoted the DMK treasurer as saying that he had “strongly criticised” the government for lifting prohibition and “not implementing” the policies of Annadurai.

The event had an immediate impact, with MGR being suspended from the party a few days later. Another news item in the paper, carried on October 11, stated that the decision was taken by the then party president and Chief Minister, M. Karunanidhi, and the general secretary and Education Minister, V.R. Nedunchezhian [who joined the AIADMK in the late 1970s], “following a requisition from 26 of the 31 members of the DMK executive”.

Asked whether MGR ever raised the question of disclosure of assets by partymen, Karunanidhi replied that Ramachandran had “neither written nor spoken to him” about this.

The disciplinary action against MGR led to widespread protests by his followers from Vellore to Tirunelveli. His fans showed their anger against the DMK by lowering the party flag and even burning the portrait of Karunanidhi.

When the news regarding the suspension came, MGR was amid the shoot for a Tamil film, Netru, indru, naalai. In fact, hours before the development, he told reporters that his demand was “only to prove” the honesty of the DMK members in the context of charges of corruption by the Opposition. “It was not a mud-slinging exercise,” the paper, in an item on October 11, quoted him as having said.

The subsequent events were swift. On October 13, the DMK executive first ratified the general secretary’s decision to suspend MGR. The next day, the general council followed suit. Addressing a meeting at the Marina on October 15, the then Chief Minister described the decision as “painful and agonising,” which, according to Karunanidhi, had to be taken, as MGR had gone to the extent of “casting aspersions on the integrity” of 18 lakh workers of the party.

A day later, a youth from Udumalpet, Ismail, set himself ablaze in support of MGR. On October 18, MGR announced the formation of a new party, which was initially called the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. The prefix “All India” was added subsequently. Karunanidhi’s immediate reaction to the AIADMK’s establishment was: “He [MGR] has achieved what he wanted and planned to do.”

Commenting on the factors that led to the MGR-Karunanidhi separation, R. Kannan, in his biography of the AIADMK founder, wrote that “He [MGR] wanted to be consulted on everything, while Kalaignar tried to free himself from MGR’s hold and assert himself.” R. Thangathurai, who also authored a book on the AIADMK leader, stated that immediately after the 1971 Assembly election, wherein he had campaigned extensively for the DMK, MGR had begun preparing himself to be a leader.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 6:24:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/a-look-at-the-events-leading-up-to-the-birth-of-aiadmk/article37046741.ece

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