It is a rather bizarre setting, but DMK president and Tamil Nadu chief minister M.K. Stalin appears unfazed as he rages against the Centre while campaigning via videoconference for the urban local body elections in Kanyakumari district. Rather than pitch the achievements of his government in the last eight months, Stalin persistently harped on the challenge posed to the country’s federal set-up by the Union government in his February 11 speech. But that’s nothing unusual in the Dravidian politics of Tamil Nadu.
State autonomy was a big issue for the DMK since its formative years. The anti-Hindi agitation gave it another dimension, by projecting the party as the saviour of Tamil language and culture. No wonder, the fight against Hindi imposition has been a favourite weapon in the hands of both Dravidian parties while taking on the Centre. For example, the symbolic act of hoisting the tricolour on Independence Day was the preserve of the state governor till Karunanidhi as CM got the powers shifted to the chief minister in 1971. DMK has also never hidden its misgivings on Article 356, since its government had been dismissed twice—in 1976 and 1991.