Justice Party and Dravidar Kazhagam

2. Birth of Dravidar Kazhagam

Chapter 2
"Political History of the Rise and Fall of Dravidian Parties in Tamil Nadu (South India)"

Thanjai Nalankilli, Ph.D.

TAMIL TRIBUNE, July 2005 (ID. 2005-07-01)
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Table of Contents of the book "Political History of the Rise and Fall of Dravidian Parties in Tamil Nadu (South India)"and links to other chapters


AIADMK - All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

DK - Dravidar Kazhagam

DMK - Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

At the time of the birth of Dravidar Kazhagam (DK), Tamil Nadu was part of Madras Province which was part of British India (the British colony in South Asia). Madras Province consisted of most of today's Tamilnadu and large parts of today's Andhra Pradesh and small areas of Karnataka and Kerala.

Dravidar Kazhagam (Dravidian Association) was born in 1944 by a metamorphosis of Thenninthiyar Nala Urimai Sangam (South Indian Welfare Rights Organization), commonly known as the Neethi Katchi (Justice Party). This parent organization was started by Sir P. Thyagaraja Chettiyar in 1916 to safeguard the rights of non-Brahmins in southern India. It was popular among the public in its early years as the champion of non-Brahmins but its popularity slowly eroded. By 1944 it had lost much of the public support because the public perceived it as an elitist, pro-British organization. (In its early years Justice Party took the position that British rule should not end until Brahmin hegemony in South India ends in the political sphere, lest Brahmins and northerners become dominant in post-British India. The party changed its position in 1939 and called for the end of British rule although the public still perceived the party as pro-British. Similarly, although the founders and early leaders of the Justice Party were the rich elite, with time, middle class members also reached leadership positions. In fact, in 1944, the party president and general-secretary were both from the middle class.)

In 1944, the then Justice Party President Periyar E. V. Ramaswamy Naicker, General-Secretary C. N. Annadurai and some other leaders decided to reform the party, retool its agenda and rename it. Accordingly, at the 1944 Salem Conference, C. N. Annadurai presented a resolution containing the following points:

  1. Party members who had received honorary titles such as Rao Bahadur, Diwan Bahadur and Rao Shaheb from the British Government  should renounce them, and no party member shall accept such titles from the British in the future.
  2. Party members should resign positions such as Honorary Magistrate, and no party member shall hold such positions in the future.
  3. Party members should remove caste identifications from their names and shall not use them in the future.
  4. Party name should be changed from Thenninthiyar Nala Urimai Sangam (South Indian Welfare Rights Organization) or the Neethi Katchi (Justice Party) to Dravidar Kazhagam (Dravidian Association).

(ANALYSIS: The first two points are obviously meant to shed the real or perceived elitist, pro-British image. The third point is, of course, in line with Justice Party's (and now DK's) long-held anti-caste stance. The fourth point, renaming the party, was to get rid of the negative baggage the Justice Party carried (for example, the elitist, pro-British image). Other than that the basic ideals and goals of Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) were the same as those of the Justice Party.)

The resolution was presented to the Advisory Committee and the committee passed it. Then it was presented to the general body and it voted for it unanimously. The newly named Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) held to the ideals of the Justice Party. The principal ideals and goals were:

  1. Social reform (such as ending religious superstitions, ending caste distinctions, empowering of women)
  2. Ending Brahmin dominance in Tamil Nadu educational institutions and government
  3. Ending northern domination of the politics and economy of Tamil Nadu
  4. Opposition to Hindi as India's official language
  5. Independence for Dravida Nadu from India (Dravida Nadu, that is Dravidian Country, as they conceived it, consisted of today's Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu)

Unlike the Justice Party, Dravidar Kazhagam decided not to contest elections because it diverted energies from its political and social agenda. As of now, DK never contested an election although it supported other parties during election times. (Many of DK's offshoots, however, would contest elections in the coming decades.)

Periyar E. V. Ramaswamy (EVR) and C. N. Annadurai remained as party president and general-secretary, respectively.

Dravidar Kazhagam designed a rectangular party flag that consisted of a small red circle at the center in a black background. The black color signified the low state of Dravidian people (at that time) and red signified the new revolutionary spirit among Dravidians.

Renaming the party, emphasizing its core principles and re-tooling its agenda energized Dravidar Kazhagam (DK). Branch offices were opened in many cities and towns throughout the Tamil-speaking areas of Madras Province (offices in non-Tamil areas were far and few).

EDITORIAL NOTE: Some Tamil names are spelled differently by different people. Here are some variations of names used in this chapter:

Dravidar Kazhagam - Dravidar Kazagam
Periyar - Periar
Naicker - Nayakkar, Nayakar

FIS050615    2005-a1d

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