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General seats for Dalits gone with dual model
After the abolition of dual member constituency model, Dalit candidates being elected from general constituencies in the state have literally come to a nil. Even in the 2019 polls, not a single Dalit candidate filed nomination or was fielded by any party in any general constituency.
The last Dalit candidate to be fielded in a general constituency by a major party was Dhan Singh in Pallavaram in 2011 and he won the elections.
Earlier, the dual member constituency model ensured sufficient Dalit representation in the state. But after its abolition, Dalit representation in the state has not exceeded the number of reserved constituencies in the state and no party, be it the DMK or the AIADMK, was ready to offer seats for Dalits in general constituencies.
In the initial elections, there was a system of Dalit representation, called the dual member constituency model, under which every party should field two candidates – a Dalit and a member of any other caste, in each constituency.
As per provisions of the model, voting would be held separately for Dalits and general candidates and top two candidates, who secured the maximum number of votes, would be selected as the representatives. However, the problem with the model was that in some constituencies both the elected candidates turned out to be Dalits.
For instance, in 1957 in Parvathipuram general elections both the elected candidates were Dalits. This led to the loss of former President VV Giri in the constituency.
According to political experts, Coimbatore Lok Sabha constituency too witnessed the same results and as there were many instances in the country, the model was abolished in 1961, through an Act of Parliament.
After scrapping of the model, the concept of reserved constituencies was introduced according to which a set of segments in a state were marked as reserved constituencies in which only Dalit candidates can be fielded.
Since the introduction of reserved constituencies in the state, there are seven reserved constituencies in the state, from 1962 general elections, and all the parties, irrespective of their ideologies, have hardly fielded Dalit candidates in general constituencies.
According to political experts there were only handful of Dalit candidates, who have won from general constituencies.
Political analyst, Raveendran Duraisamy told DT Next, “Every party will thoroughly check the prospects of victory in a particular constituency and fields candidates of the dominant caste in that pocket. Only a few Dalit candidates managed to win from general constituencies.”
He also said that Dalit Ezhumalai was one such candidate fielded by AIADMK, who won from Tiruchy constituency in 2001 election. Similarly, CT Dhandapani, another Dalit candidate fielded by DMK, won the election from Dharapuram constituency.
However, in Assembly constituencies Dalit candidates, including Bhimrao from CPM and Dhan Singh from DMK, won by contesting from generalconstituencies.