Vajpayee’s sweet, sour relationship with AIADMK and DMK

Chennai: Barring the 13-day rule in 1996, during which he led his first government at the Centre and gained the distinction of shortest Prime Minister stint in India’s history, Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s remaining two tenures- from 1998 to 1999 and from 1999 to 2004- was closely linked to Tamilnadu politics.

He had garnered support from the two Dravidian majors- the AIADMK and the DMK- in a gap of less than two years, amid topsy turvy situations.

Vajpayee was not cowed down by mounting pressure to dismiss the DMK government in Tamilnadu in 1999, despite facing an open threat to the continuance of his government, especially from its nagging ally, the AIADMK.

After the coalition era was heralded in India by DMK president M Karunanidhi in the early 1990s (non-Congress National Front and United Front governments), Vajpayee was the first BJP leader to become Prime Minister, thanks to the support extended by AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa.

But it turned out to be a political misfortune as Jayalalithaa, after hectic parleys and the visits of then Union Ministers to Chennai during which they requested her to ensure the continuance of the BJP-led regime, withdrew her party’s support following which Vajpayee’s government lost power.

But without wasting time, Karunanidhi entered into a pact with the BJP-led NDA and was also part of the government, which had successfully completed its term from 1999 to 2004.

However, differences cropped up and the DMK pulled out of the alliance in the fag end of the tenure. But it extended unconditional outside support to the Vajpayee government, to ensure its stability.

In 2004, the DMK moved towards the Congress, while the AIADMK again allied with the BJP.

The DMK-Congress partnership led to the formation of UPA government in 2004s and 2009, and the AIADMK-BJP alliance lost badly in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.

In 2014, the BJP-led NDA again stormed back to power headed by Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister, but without any alliance with the AIADMK and the DMK.


Anna, Karunanidhi, Jaya
Vajpayee was close to leaders from Tamilnadu like DMK founder C N Annadurai, former Chief Ministers Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa, former Union Minister Murasoli Maran and MDMK general secretary Vaiko among others.Vajpayee wanted Anna’s birth centenary to be celebrated across the country.

He first visited Tamilnadu in 1958 as general secretary of the Jan Sangh and was in Madurai in 1986 to address the Tamil Eelam Solidarity Organisation (TESO) meeting.

He lost power in 1999 after a tea party hosted by Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy who brought together Sonia Gandhi and Jayalalithaa.