Some Aspects of Politics and Governance in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu

Dr. V. Anil Kumar


E-ARTICLE available from IDEAINDIA.COM at

We examine the decentralisation process in two south Indian states: Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. These states have major role in the federal politics of the Indian polity. In this context this e-article argues that there is an inverse relationship between strong federal demands and their relation to decentralisation further down the polity. These fast reforming states are strengthening the state level governments but the same does not seem to happen with decentralisation.

There are good reasons to compare Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu with regard to their politics: firstly both are Dravidian states; both have strong regional parties; both have had, and still have, charismatic film stars as political leaders, and both have strongly championed the federal cause in Indian polity with gusto. Andhra Pradesh was the first state to demand and be constituted as a linguistic state; and Tamil Nadu always championed the Dravidian cause. These aspects make a comparative study of their politics in general and their politics of decentralisation in particular attractive.

This e-article attempts to elaborate the paradoxical situation of federalism and decentralisation in the two states. Both the states, Andhra Pradesh for more than two decades and Tamil Nadu since much earlier period, have stood for strong federal polity. Both the states championed the cause of the strengthening of the states vis-à-vis the Centre in federal polity. Both the states led by regional parties have bargained vehemently for powers for the state-level governments . Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh since 1982 and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) in Tamil Nadu as regional parties stood steadfastly for the demands of the states. But ironically both the states neglected devolution of power further down the political hierarchy. Interestingly, while Andhra Pradesh has had, and still has, only one single regional party, the TDP, Tamil Nadu has more than one. Besides the above commonalities and differences, what makes them comparable is the reluctance to further devolve powers to local self-governments. This makes us hypothesise somewhat tentatively that the stronger the regional parties, the weaker would be the local self-governments.

DR. V. ANIL KUMAR – Assistant Professor, Centre for Political Institutions, Governance and Development, Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bangalore, India (www.isec.ac.in)

Areaa of Specialisation:

Democratic Decentralisation and Rural Institutions

Agrarian Change and Rural Development

Public Policy and Policy Processes

Social and Political Theory

Academic Qualifications:

Ph.D.: University of Delhi (2004). Title of the thesis: Capitalist Development and Agrarian Politics in Andhra Pradesh, 1960-1990.

M. Phil.: University of Delhi (1991). Title of the thesis: Depeasantisation and Marxist Theory: With Reference to Some Case Studies From the Third World.

M.A. in Political Science, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (1988).


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