The Weekend Leader - DMK Allies Urge for Caste Census in Tamil Nadu

DMK Allies Urge for Caste Census in Tamil Nadu

Arun Lakshman   |  Chennai


Photo: IANS

Political parties of Tamil Nadu, including the allies of the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) are demanding a caste-based census in the state to ensure social justice.

The Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), a Dalit political party in Tamil Nadu and an ally of the DMK, has demanded that the state government launch work on a caste census to ensure that the quantum of reservation for various communities is in proportion to their population.

Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi (TVK) another constituent of the DMK and the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), the political arm of the powerful Vanniyar community and a part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has also demanded a caste census so that no community is deprived of social justice.

VCK founder leader and Member of Parliament, Thol Thirumavalavan also said that states should be allowed to fix the percentage of reservation on their turf. He also called upon the Union government to bring legislation in the next session of Parliament in this regard.

The Amma Munnetra Makkal Kazhagam (AMMK), led by TTV Dhinakaran, former MLA and nephew of AIADMK former interim General Secretary, VK Sasikala, has called upon the DMK government to remember its promise during the 2021 Assembly elections that it would urge the Centre to conduct a caste census across the country.

TTV Dhinakaran in a statement had called upon the DMK government to start work on a caste census and said that without such a census, social justice is not possible.

Thol Thirumavalavan said that the Centre was not conducting the 2021 census because there were demands from various political parties to carry out a caste-based census after the Union government implemented 10 per cent reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS).

The powerful Dalit leader also accused the BJP and the RSS brass of being concerned only for the upper caste people and demanded that the Tamil Nadu government conduct a caste census. He also called upon the state government to increase the SC/ST quota from 19 per cent to 21 per cent.

Significantly, Tamil Nadu at present follows a 69 per cent reservation policy with the Backward Classes getting 30 per cent reservation, Most Backward Classes 20 per cent and SC/ST communities having a 19 per cent quota. However, the Supreme Court has put a cap on reservations at 50 per cent in the state.

Notably, the Muslim community enjoys 3.5 per cent reservation under the Backward Class quota of 30 per cent.

The Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) also passed a resolution on September 11 calling for a caste census in the state. While moving the resolution, TNCC president, KS Alagiri said, “There is a bias on the issue of quotas. However, the quota system has been implemented to create equality and representation for communities which have been historically disadvantaged. This is what Mahatma Gandhi, Dr BR Ambedkar and Thanthai Periyar said. A caste census can be used to provide representation based on the population of each community. The AICC has also called for the same and we urge the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister to do a caste-based census.”

The TNCC president also said that reservation based on the data that the government had at present was not completely reliable. He said that a caste-based census would ensure that the data was accurate and quota for some communities would increase.

Interestingly, even though the top DMK leadership, right from the late Chief Minister M Karunanidhi to his son MK Stalin, has been demanding a caste census in Tamil Nadu in order to provide exact reservation for deprived communities, their party has been lukewarm in its approach and is not taking any initiative for a statewide caste census.

It may be recalled that the AIADMK had appointed the Justice Kulasekaran Commission on December 7, 2020 to collect caste-wise quantifiable data. This was following a vociferous demand by the then AIADMK ally PMK calling for a 20 per cent reservation for the Vanniyar community.

Without naming the PMK, the Chief Minister appointed Justice A Kulasekaran, a retired Judge of the Madras High Court to head the commission.

However, the tenure of the commission came to a close on June 20, 2021. The panel had sent a request to the state government led by MK Stalin for an extension of six months, but curiously, the DMK which has been clamouring for a caste-based census and acting like a champion of the cause, did not give the commission an extension.

With allies, including the Congress and the powerful Vanniyar political outfit PMK, demanding a caste census and with the AIADMK breaking its ties with the BJP, the possibility of some of the DMK allies jumping fence, may compel the DMK to order a caste-based census.

Coimbatore-based social scientist and Director, Centre for Studies of Dalit Rights, KU Manikandan, told the IANS, “The DMK is confused. The party has time and again demanded a caste-based census but when it is in power it is not doing anything for the same and putting the blame on the Union government.

“The downtrodden of Tamil Nadu want to know the exact situation and demand a caste-based census. The prominent Dalit party of Tamil Nadu, VCK has already demanded this, even though it is part of the DMK alliance. We expect Stalin to walk in the steps of Bihar Chief Minister and order a caste-based census, which is indispensable now.” - IANS

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