The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) was formed in 1949 after splitting from the Dravidar Kazhagam, which in turn had been formed in 1944 after splitting from the Justice Party. The founder of the Dravidar Kazhagam was EV Ramasamy, popularly known as Periyar and the founder of the DMK was CN Annadurai, popularly known as Anna. One thing common to both the parties was the demand to create a new sovereign state in the southern part of India, named Dravida Nadu. Speaking in the Rajya Sabha in 1962, Anna declared: “Dravidians want the right of self-determination … We want a separate country for southern India.”
However, the movement for a separate Dravida Nadu found minimal or no takers outside the Madras State. Nevertheless, 1962 saw the Sino-Indian war taking place and nationalist sentiment ran high across India. Also, in 1963, the Jawaharlal Nehru led government at the Centre brought in an amendment to the Constitution, which banned any party with sectarian principles from contesting elections. This amendment or the 16th amendment was dubbed as the anti-secessionist amendment. Due to the fact that the call for Dravida Nadu found little or no takers outside the Madras State and due to the Nehru government strengthening anti-secession laws, the DMK gave up its demand for a separate sovereign nation.
For the next 50 years, the DMK didn’t go back to its demand for Dravida Nadu. Although a few keyboard warriors ascribing to the Dravidian ideology did trend #DravidaNadu on occasions but officially, the DMK didn’t issue any statement advocating the formation of Dravida Nadu. However, recently, the working president of the DMK MK Stalin issued a statement that he was in favour of Dravida Nadu. At a press conference in Erode, when prompted by a journalist that an idea was doing the rounds calling for a united Dravida Nadu, Stalin declared “If it (such a situation) comes, it would be welcome. We hope that such a situation arises.”
After this there was huge furor on the clear secessionist statement issued by a prominent leader of a prominent political party, and Stalin clarified that the call for Dravida Nadu is because the BJP led NDA government at the Centre has ignored the Southern states. He slammed the Centre for not forming the Kaveri Management Board. The state of Tamil Nadu has been pressing for the formation of the board ever since the Supreme Court declared its final verdict in the case regarding the Kaveri dispute involving the sharing of the river waters between the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and the union territory of Puducherry.
However, Karnataka has historically opposed the formation on any such board because it believes that the formation of such a board will lead to the state losing control over all its dams and reservoirs in the Kaveri basin. But the state has welcomed alternative mechanisms to ensure that the regulation of water sharing as per the mandate of the Supreme Court.
On Friday, after a gap of two years, Anna University in Chennai finally got a new Vice Chancellor (VC). The governor of Tamil Nadu, Banwarilal Purohit appointed MK Surappa, a former director of the Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar. Surappa had also spent more than 20 years at the prestigious Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru. He is also a recipient of the prestigious Karnataka Rajyotsava Award from the Government of Karnataka, the MRSI-ICSC Conductivity and Material Science annual prize in 2007, the National Metallurgists Day Award from the Government of India and the MRSI Medal.
However, the appointment has not gone down well with most political parties in Tamil Nadu as a Kannadiga has been appointed VC at a time when the entire state is up in arms pressurizing the central government to constitute the Kaveri Management Board. It is MK Stalin’s criticism that is most amusing to see. Stalin has expressed concern that a man of Kannada origin has been appointed VC during the agitation for Kaveri. He has also claimed that the move is a step to “saffronize” education in Tamil Nadu.
#BREAKING DMK rakes up fresh controversy: Cauvery politics peaks in T.N, DMK opposes new Anna varsity V-C, MK Stalin cites Kannadiga roots, ‘unacceptable in view of Cauvery’, ‘don’t saffronise Universities in state’ pic.twitter.com/FssjHFPg9o
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) April 6, 2018
Just some time back, Stalin was calling for a separate sovereign state, a separate Dravida Nadu which would include Karnataka and here, he is opposing the appointment of a person of Kannada origin as VC of the Anna University. What makes it more amusing is that the founding father of the Dravidian movement and the Dravidar Kazhagam, from which the DMK emerged, EV Ramasamy or Periyar himself was a Kannadiga!
Although the Dravidian ideology and Periyar himself did not become that popular in Karnataka, both the ideology and the man have many followers in Tamil Nadu, including the DMK and its leaders. Perhaps, Stalin has forgotten this piece of history. Also, the Kaveri river which is the focal point in the discussion has its source in Talakaveri, which is located in the Brahmagiri hill of the Kodagu district of Karnataka. It looks like Stalin has not only forgotten history, perhaps he has forgotten geography as well.
This just exposes Stalin’s hypocrisy. On one hand, he alleges that the negligence of the South Indian states by the centre would lead to a situation where there would be calls across South India to form Dravida Nadu, and he says that he supports the formation of Dravida Nadu which would include the five South Indian states along with Puducherry. On the other hand, he criticizes the move to make a scholar VC of the Anna University just because of his origin, and his origin being from a state which Stalin wishes will be a part of the same Dravida Nadu!