The Fort St George, the seat of power in the State, closely averted coalition governments on two earlier occasions, when the single largest party ran the Government for the five-year term by managing merger or outside support of other parties. In the first Assembly elections for the Madras Presidency in 1952, the Congress was able to win only in 152 seats out of 375 constituencies, falling short of majority by 36 seats. The non-Congress parties, including CPI, formed the United Democratic Front and claimed the support of 167 members which was higher than that of the Congress.
However, Governor Sriprakasa decided to invite the single largest party instead of the single largest coalition to form the Government. C Rajagopalachari alias Rajaji who did not contest the polls was persuaded by Congress leaders to form the Government.
Rajaji began negotiations with MA Manickavel Naicker, whose Common Wheel Party won six seats. Although, the Common Wheel Party won the seats with the support of the DMK, which did not contest the polls, Manickavel Naicker decided to join the Congress and was made the Revenue Minister in the 14-member cabinet.
Ramasamy Padaiachiar, who converted his Vanniyar Sangam into a political party called Tamil Nadu Peasants Party had won 19 seats, with DMK support. He too joined the Congress party and Rajaji, who also won the support of a few Independents, formed the first Government in the Madras Presidency after Independence.
Again, in 2006, the DMK headed by M Karunanidhi won only 96 seats and needed another 22 members for majority in the 234-member Tamil Nadu Assembly. The Congress which relied on the support of the DMK’s 16 Lok Sabha members in Parliament for the UPA Government’s survival did not make any serious attempt to push for a coalition government in the State, despite having 34 MLAs.
There were feeble voices from a few Congress leaders which was ignored by the DMK, which ran a minority government for five years. On one occasion when then Union Minister of State and Congress leader EVKS Elangovan made a strong pitch for share in power in the State, Karunanidhi used his clout with the AICC president Sonia Gandhi to cut him to size. A humbled Elangovan eventually called on Karunanidhi and made peace with him.
Besides, the PMK with 18 MLAs and Left parties with 15 members were backing the DMK Government from outside. But throughout the five years, AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa never lost an opportunity to dub the Government as a “minority DMK Government.”