Chronology of Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu: An Analysis for Future Research

The article has been written with the objective of presenting chronology of the Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and also then the Madras Presidency of British India so that at a glance present generation can get an idea. Also future research study can be taken up about the activities of each Chief Minister.

   In school and college days, we read about the supremacy of the Cholas, the Cheras and the Pandyas for centuries. The Pallavas held supremacy from about the second quarter of the fourth century A.D. They were the designers, architects and initiators of the famous Dravidian style of temple architecture which still attracts Indians from other parts of the country and lakhs of foreigners. Muslims gradually strengthened their position, which led to the establishment of the Bahamani Sultanate, by the middle of the 14th century.

  The present Government of Tamil Nadu is headed by Edappadi K. Palaniswami, after the demise of former Chief Minister Dr. J. Jayalalithaa. Anyway, the first Chief Minister of  the Madras Presidency of British India was Thiru A Subbarayalu (17-12-1920 to 11-07-1921). He initially joined the Indian National Congress but left the party in 1916 to join the Justice Party and he was CM from the Justice Party. It is pertinent to mention that the Justice Party, officially known as the South Indian Liberal Federation, was a political party in the Madras Presidency of British India. It was established on 20 November, 1916.  The names of the Chief Ministers along with their tenure in then Madras/Tamil Nadu are presented below:    .

1)         Thiru A Subbarayalu   (17-12-1920 to 11-07-1921)

2)         Thiru Panagal Raja (11-07-1921 to 03-12-1926)

3)         Dr. P Subbarayan (04-12-1926 to 27-10-1930)

4)         Thiru P Munuswamy Naidu (27-10-1930 to 04-11-1932)

5)         Thiru Ramakrishna Ranga Rao,Raja of Bobbili (05-11-1932 to 04-04-

             1936) & (24-08-1936 to 01-04-1937)

6)         Thiru P T Rajan (04-04-1936 to 24-08-1936)

7)         Thiru Kurma Venkata Reddy Naidu (01-04-1937 to 14-07-1937)

8)         Thiru C Rajagopalachari (14-07-1937to29-10-1939) & (10-04-1952to13-04-1954)

9)         Governor’s Rule (29 -10-1939 to 30 -04-1946) (2,375 days)

10)       Thiru Tanguturi Prakasam (30-04-1946 to 23-03-1947)

11)       Thiru O P Ramaswamy Reddiyar (23-03-1947 to 06-04-1949)

12)       Thiru P S  Kumaraswamy Raja (06-04-1949 to 09-04-1952)

13)       Thiru K Kamaraj (13-04-1954 to 02-10-1963)

14)       Thiru M Bakthavatsalam (02-10-1963 to 06-03-1967)

15)       Dr. C.N. Annadurai (06-03-1967 to 03-02-1969)

16)       Dr. Kalaignar M Karunanidhi (10-02-1969 to 04-01-1971), (15-03-1971 to 31-01-

            1976), (27-01-1989 to 30-01-1991), (13-05-1996 to 13-05-2001), (13-05-2006 to


17)       Dr. M G Ramachandran (30-06-1977 to 17-02-1980) (09-06-1980 to 15-

           11-1984) (10-02-1985 to 24-12-1987)

18)       Thiru V.R. Nedunchezhiyan,( 04-02-1969 to 09 -02-1969), (16-11-1984 to 9-02-

            1985) & (25-12-1987to 06-01-1988)

19)       4 February 1969 – 9 February 1969, 16 November 1984 – 9 February   

            1985 and 25 December 1987 – 6 January 1988

20)       Thirumathi Janaki Ramachandran (07-01-1988 to 30-01-1988)

21)       Dr. Selvi J Jayalalithaa (24-06-1991 to 12-05-1996), (14-05-2001 to 21-

             09-2001), (02-03-2002 to 12-05-2006),          (16-05-2011 to 27-09-

              2014), (23-05-2015 to 21-05-2016) & (23-05-2016 to 05-12-2016)

22)         Thiru O. Panneerselvam (21-09-2001 to 01-03-2002), (29-09-2014 to

              22-05-2015) (06-12-2016 to 15-02-2017)

23)       Thiru Edappadi K. Palaniswami (16 February 2017 still continuing)

  From the above list few points may be mentioned here. Before independence of India,   the South Indian Liberal Federation dominated in Madras Presidency of British India as of the nine Chief Ministers of Madras Presidency namely,  1)Thiru A Subbarayalu, 2)Thiru Panagal Raja, 3) Dr. P Subbarayan, 4) Thiru P Munuswamy Naidu, 5) Thiru Ramakrishna Ranga Rao, Raja of Bobbili, 6) Thiru P T Rajan 7) Thiru Kurma Venkata Reddy Naidu, 8) Thiru C Rajagopalachari and 9) Thiru Tanguturi Prakasam, five were from  South Indian Liberal Federation and two were unaffiliated to any political party i.e. no political party and two were from Indian National Congress. The Chief Ministers of unaffiliated political party were Dr. P Subbarayan, and Thiru Kurma Venkata Reddy Naidu.  On the other hand, Thiru C Rajagopalachari and Thiru Tanguturi Prakasam were from Indian National Congress. After independence, Chief Ministers of Madras/ Tamil Nadu were either from Indian National Congress or Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam or All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, but the South Indian Liberal Federation (Justice Party) could not make any dent after independence. Also after independence President’s rule was imposed five times in the State.

(The author is thankful to Thiru Mr. Rajendra Gounder, Assistant Professor of Economics, Goa Multi-Faculty College, and Goa for providing some information. Anyway, I take full responsibility for any fault if it is observed here)

The following websites have been consulted while writing the article


Dr. Shankar Chatterjee                                                                   

Former Professor& Head (CPME)

NIRD &PR (Govt. of India),

Hyderabad-500 030

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1 reply

  1. Dear Dr. Shankar ji,

    thank you for this nice article on the CMs of Tamil Nadu. Being a Tamilian, it gives me an opportunity to revisit the kind of leadership TN had in the past. Besides, the historical time scale of the office held by these gentelmen is an easy method of remembering the names. Thank you for this nice article.

    best wishes

    Dr Deepak Samuel V
    Scientist E
    Conservation of Coastal and Marine Resources Division (CMR)
    National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM)
    Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC)
    Government of India
    Anna University Campus, Chennai 600025