The Marumalarchi DMK (MDMK), a breakaway group from the DMK, was founded in May 1994 to fight the DMK following serious differences between DMK president M Karunanidhi and senior DMK leader Vaiko. Though the MDMK did align with the DMK for LS polls in 1999 and 2004, it refrained from supporting the DMK for the state Assembly polls for nearly 27 years. 2021 marks the first election of co-operation between these two parties for Assembly elections.
The alliance between the DMK and the MDMK was sealed after MDMK general secretary Vaiko visited the DMK headquarters in Chennai on Saturday (March 6) and met DMK president M K Stalin. The MDMK agreed to accept the DMK’s final offer of six seats, with the MDMK even agreeing to contest on the DMK symbol of ‘Rising Sun’.
After signing the accord, Vaiko said he and the MDMK would strain every nerve for the success of the “secular” alliance and to bring the DMK back to power in the state. Vaiko said it was the duty of every individual to work for the victory of the DMK-led front in this election as the BJP, an ally of the AIADMK, wanted to bring in ‘Sanatana Dharma’ as the guiding principle of the state government, threatening to wipe out the gains of the social movement led by Dravidar Kazhagam founder E V Ramaswami (Periyar) and DMK leaders C N Annadurai and M Karunanidhi.
In the 1996 polls, the MDMK had teamed up with the CPM even as district secretaries of the DMK quit the party and joined MDMK. Though this was a vertical split, the MDMK attempt to prevent a DMK government failed in 1996. The DMK sought to replace the AIADMK in the BJP front for the 1999 Lok Sabha polls, an alliance that was worked out by Vaiko in association with DMK leader and Karunanidhi’s nephew, Murasoli Maran.
However, this was shortlived as Vaiko, at the last minute, walked out of the 2001 Assembly polls, since the talks on seat-sharing failed. Vaiko did not join the rival front led by AIADMK but the MDMK chose to stand on its own legs. In 2004, MDMK decided to revive the alliance for the Lok Sabha elections, but in 2006, just as in 2001, the MDMK walked out of the DMK-led front and joined hands with the AIADMK for the Assembly elections.
The MDMK continued the alliance with the AIADMK for the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. However, in 2011, the MDMK, at the eleventh hour, walked out of the AIADMK-led front as it considered the seat allotted to it was paltry. This time the MDMK chose to keep away from the polls.
In 2014, it chose to be a part of the NDA in Tamil Nadu, supporting the BJP, and in 2016, it joined a six-party front called Makkal Nala Koottani as a third front to take on both the DMK and the AIADMK. After the death of Karunanidhi, the MDMK joined the DMK-led front for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
For the April 6 Assembly elections, the DMK and the MDMK held several rounds of talks without any breakthrough. A bone of contention was the DMK’s insistence on the MDMK to contest the Assembly polls on the DMK symbol, to which Vaiko finally agreed. Vaiko’s explanation was that a state party had to contest at least 12 seats to be eligible for a common symbol. Otherwise, it may get a free symbol for each of the constituencies it chooses to contest. To avoid confusion in the minds of the electorate, the MDMK agreed to use the DMK’s ‘Rising Sun’ symbol. This decision would also indirectly help the number of seats where the DMK symbol would be in play. Technically, MDMK members elected on the DMK symbol would be treated as DMK members.
Thus, this marks the first time that the MDMK would work for the success of the DMK in the state Assembly elections. Perhaps, this did not happen earlier as the MDMK cadres could not reconcile themselves to supporting Karunanidhi as a chief ministerial candidate having opposed him all along from 1994.
Vaiko has said that he would like to see Stalin as the next chief minister, and said it was bound to happen in view of the enormous support of the people in the state to the secular alliance