J Jayalalithaa has not left behind a void. She has left behind a legacy. It is the legacy left for her by her mentor, MGR and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).
The various DMK’s spawned by the Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) of Periyar – the DMK of CN Annadurai followed by the Karunanidhi’s DMK, MGR’s ADMK, Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK, Vaiko’s MDMK, Vijayakanth’s DMDK etc have something in common besides their antecedents.
CN Annadurai hailed from Conjeevaram (Kanchipuram) and was a Mudaliar. Just like my mother. The Mudaliar community was prominent in the Justice Party with its strong underpinnings of anti-Brahminism. Annadurai reduced the Periyar Ramaswamy Naicker call for an independent Dravida Nadu of the four south Indian regions to that for an independent Tamil homeland- Tamil Nadu.
The DMK made a strong showing in 1960 with its anti -Hindi and secessionist plank quite prominent. But Annadurai dropped it in 1962 on Jawaharlal Nehru’s personal appeal in the wake of the Chinese attack that year. Only the anti-Hindi plank remained (as it does till today).
After Annadurai died a couple of years after the DMK decisively trounced the Congress in 1967. He was succeeded as CM by MK Karunanidhi, a Telugu. The next CM, MG Ramachandran was a Malayali. Jayalalitha was a Mysore born Kannada speaking Iyengar. Vaiko is also a Telugu. Even Capt.Vijayakanth, now heading a near extinct party is a Telugu.
In India, few seem to notice or care about the irony of the standard bearers of Tamil sub-nationalism all being non-Tamilians. I am Malaysian, but sadly (for me) I am both a Mudaliar and a Tamilian but with no Tamil. A bit like Mani Shankar Aiyar whose familiarity with Tamil might be even lesser than mine.
This takes me to the fact that German nationalism reached its virulent high when it was led by an Austrian – Adolf Schickelgruber later Adolf Hitler. It is a strange paradox. The Soviet dictator and Russian supremacist, Stalin was a Georgian. Napoleon, whose French Empire ambitions plunged Europe into two decades of warfare was an Italian from Corsica.