After its debut in 1957, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is going into a general election for the first time without a national party in its alliance.
The DMK first contested the general election on its own in 1957 and in subsequent elections it has been forging an alliance, with at least one national party as constituent.
In the election held in 1962, the DMK joined hands with the Swatantra Party. Since then, it has been leading alliances that had national parties such as the Congress, BJP, Janata Dal, CPI and CPI (M).
Alliance with all-India parties enabled the DMK to play a key role in national politics, irrespective of its performance in Tamil Nadu. Even when the DMK alliance fared poorly in the elections, the party gained respectability in the post-poll scenario, particularly in government formation, owing to its political clout at the national level.
The DMK, which had forged an alliance with the Congress (Organisation) in 1977, could win only two seats. Still, it played a prominent role in the formation of the Janata Party government at the Centre.
In the 1989 election, the DMK was in the company of Janata Dal led by V. P. Singh, and the party drew a blank for the first time in its history. However, party president M. Karunanidhi played a major role in choosing V. P. Singh as the Prime Minister.
In the 1996 election, the DMK had a tie-up with the now defunct Tamil Maanila Congress and the alliance romped home by winning all the 39 seats in Tamil Nadu. Once again, DMK was in the forefront in the formation of Deve Gowda-led government.
The DMK-Congress combine formed in 2004 election spread over two governments.
The DMK’s alliance with national parties helped in bringing many projects to Tamil Nadu, like four-laning of national highways, new railway projects and prestigious institutions like the IIM, Tiruchi, Central University of Tamil Nadu and Indian Maritime University, says S. Rajasekar, a senior party functionary. Its political influence also helped in the Centre according classical status to Tamil.