Social justice a tight rope walk for Dravidian majors

Even the mighty MGR, founder of the AIADMK, had to pay the price in the 1980 Lok Sabha election for introducing a Rs 9,000 income ceiling for OBC reservation. Since then, neither MGR nor Jayalalaithaa and Karunanidhi had only increased the volume of reservation.
MGR, Jayalalaithaa and Karunanidhi
MGR, Jayalalaithaa and Karunanidhi

CHENNAI: The ruling DMK and the opposition AIADMK have a reason to be circumspect on the reservation issue. Both parties must be aware that any digression from the social justice principles would affect them at the hustings.

Even the mighty MGR, founder of the AIADMK, had to pay the price in the 1980 Lok Sabha election for introducing a Rs 9,000 income ceiling for OBC reservation. Since then, neither MGR nor Jayalalaithaa and Karunanidhi had only increased the volume of reservation.

None dared to gamble on reservation or rather social justice issue until the AIADMK led by Leader of Opposition Edappadi K Palaniswami ‘welcomed’ (EPS supporter D Jayakumar publicly welcomed the SC verdict) the EWS reservation verdict of the apex court.

Barring the national parties BJP, Congress and Marxists, any compromise on reservation policy is a no-go area for the regional parties, mainly the two Dravidian parties whose three key principles are twin language, state autonomy and social justice.

Perhaps, senior AIADMK leader O Panneerselvam, who has demanded a review petition against the SC verdict, had understood the significance of MGR assertion on the floor of the House after the 1980 poll drubbing that the AIADMK led by him was in total agreement with the DMK on the three core principles. Curiously, the Dravidian parties are not alone in leading the social justice bandwagon. Like PMK, which has been consistent with the Dravidian parties on the reservation, the VCK led Thol Thirumavalavan has waxed lyrical against the implementation of EWS reservation.

“The union government must immediately release the results of the 2011 caste census. A fresh review of the quantum of reservation must be undertaken across the country on the basis of the 2011 caste census data. The percentage must be revised in tune with the released data, ” VCK leader Thol Thirumavalavan told DT Next.

Political critic and former head of the Tamil department of University of Madras, professor V Arasu says; Tamil Nadu has had a distinct political history for time immemorial.

The state and its people’s political conviction has always differed from the national mainstream on reservation like issues. Even in the 1920s, leaders like Thiru Vi Ka and VOC in the Congress had insisted on reservation for the underprivileged, while the forward caste leaders in the party opposed it.

It is proof that EPS and his ilk in AIADMK have no ideological conviction. They think that the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be sufficient to face elections. They will face the consequences of it in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

VCK MLA Aloor Shahnawaz, a harsh critic of the AIADMK dilemma on the issue, said, “AIADMK should not go astray. When MGR and Jayalalithaa made wrong decisions, it affected them even. You (EPS) are an accidental CM. Are you larger than Jayalalithaa? Let EPS publicly state that they support EWS reservation. Every party leader has stated his/her position on the issue? Are you not a leader of the party? Why is EPS speaking through Jayakumar?”

EPS who was meticulous to quote Congress Jairam Ramesh on the issue, was conspicuously silent on his stand on providing 10 per cent reservation to EWS among forward castes.

Not the first time AIADMK acted against reservation

When AIADMK skipped the all legislative parties meeting held on Saturday the reason given by AIADMK was that “they did not want to be part of the drama enacted by DMK” but this was not the first time that AIADMK had acted against ‘social justice’ as in 1990 they have voted against the government led by former Prime Minister VP Singh for bringing in the legislation to provide 27 percent reservation for OBCs.

“When we look at the journey of AIADMK we can see that the party has always been against social justice. Classic example is that they voted against the VP Singh government in 1990 and brought down the government for enacting the legislation which provided 27 percent reservation for OBCs. At least they (AIADMK) could have boycotted (like they did on Saturday) and could have walked out of the Assembly but they voted against VP Singh.” political analyst V Mathimaran told DT Next.

Back in 1989, after former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi lost in the general election and a coalition government headed by VP Singh was formed.

In 1990 VP Singh implemented the recommendations of Mandal Commission brought a legislation to provide 27 percent reservation for OBCs but AIADMK which aligned with Congress voted against and toppled the government.

Mathimaran said that AIADMK members often refer to late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa placing the 69 per cent reservation in ninth schedule of Indian Constitution but they conveniently omit the chapter of voting against VP Singh government.

Similarly, another political commentator TSS Mani also confirmed the incident and said “AIADMK voted against VP Singh government just because DMK was part of the government.”

When former minister and AIADMK Headquarters Secretary D Jayakumar was asked about the incident, he replied that DMK is trying to divert the incident.

“Back then, in 1990, it was BJP who voted against the VP Singh government in the Ram Temple issue and giving a picture that AIADMK was against social justice is not right,” said Jayakumar.

File review plea in SC soon, OPS urges govt

Expressing his disapproval, AIADMK coordinator and Bodinayakanur MLA, O Panneerselvam has appealed to the state government to soon file a review petition against the recent Supreme Court order upholding 10 per cent reservation for the economically weaker sections in public jobs and education. Prior to boarding a flight to Chennai, Panneerselvam at Madurai airport on Monday told reporters that he was content with having met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah and his supporters were not concerned about the meeting with the stalwarts of the BJP. Further talking to reporters during his brief time, OPS said those who accompanied him for the meeting with the Prime Minister were aware of it.

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