After Karunanidhi: The Dravidian Movement Needs to Refashion Itself Around Tamil Nadu's New Aspirations

The need of the hour is a conscious reorientation towards the tenets of the Dravidian movement in the context of the current aspirations of the people of the state. 

The late Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party leader M Karunanidhi marked his place in history not only as chief minister of Tamil Nadu, but also as a leader who played a key role in bringing together parties across India under a common narrative in the last 50 years. As the infighting within the party is growing, it becomes important to revisit Karunanidhi’s role in the Dravidian movement and what it means for Tamil Nadu and for the relationship between centre and states in general.

Tamil Identity as a Constituent Element of the Idea of India

The Constituent Assembly debates throw light on how the makers of the Constitution envisioned India. The pre-Partition discussions suggest that the makers were open to the idea of having a weak centre and stronger states. However, in the post-Partition period, there was a shift in this stance with the emergence of a bias towards a unitary structure. DMK leaders were vehemently opposed to a unitary set-up. In this context, Era Sezhian (2011), a veteran parliamentarian of Dravidian mantle, had remarked, “When they talk of integration, they forget one fundamental thing. India is a vast sub-continent with different cultures, histories, races, languages and nationalities... You cannot undo what history has done ... with a stroke of the pen.”

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