Annadurai to Thambidurai: Rise & fall of rebels in Tamilnadu politics

Annadurai and Periyar

Annadurai and Karunanidhi

Chennai:  Leaders, cadres & rebels. Tamilnadu’s politics is made up of these three sets. If Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai is now speaking against AIADMK forging an alliance with the BJP, a stand which is not that of his party (as clarified by Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar, who has emerged as the de facto spokesperson of the government and the AIADMK), it is in his political genes. For all we know and do not know, Thambidurai may be a pro tem rebel, but TN has  a history of such protesters turning protagonists.

It was C N Annadurai’s rebellion against his mentor and Dravidar Kazhagam founder E V Ramasamy a.k.a. Periyar that led to the formation of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. The friction between the two erupted when Periyar married Maniammai, who was much younger than him. Angered by this action of Periyar, Anna, with his supporters, parted ways with the DK and launched his own party.

Karunanidhi and MGR

Three years after Annadurai’s death, M G Ramachandran (MGR), the star leader of the DMK, left the party, then led by M Karunanidhi, to form his own kazhagam — the AIADMK. This happened after MGR was expelled by the leadership, as he, in a public meeting, asked for the financial details of the party to be publicised, which enraged the DMK top gun.


After the demise of MGR, the AIADMK saw a split with the emergence of factions led by his wife V N Janaki and J Jayalalithaa. But the one led by Jayalalithaa emerged triumphant and remained as the all-powerful AIADMK till Jayalalithaa breathed her last, barring exceptions of rebellions by S Thirunavukkarasar (MGR ADMK), R M Veerappan (MGR Kazhagam) and the likes.

Karunanidhi saw a major threat to his party when Vaiko (V Gopalsamy then) floated the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. With a sizeable number of district satraps switching over to the MDMK, Karunanidhi faced a jolt. But his storming back to power in 1996 rewrote the DMK’s fortunes. Even after that, there were voices of discontent in the DMK in the form of T Rajendhar and Karunanidhi’s elder son M K Alagiri. But, nothing could harm the party and its apparatus.


The AIADMK, post the death of Jayalalithaa, saw too many branches thanks to V K Sasikala, O Panneerselvam, Edappadi K Palaniswami, T T V Dhinakaran, Deepa Jayakumar, her husband Madhavan, Dhivakaran and Baskaran. Ministers and leaders gathered guts to air their views openly, and Thambidurai is one among them. He may not be an Annadurai. But, will he emerge a Thookudurai*?

(*Name of the character, a street-smart man known for defeating opponents, played by Ajith in the recently-released film Viswasam.)

M Bhaskar Sai