CHENNAI: In Tamil Nadu, the pioneer of reservation politics in the country, release of caste census data is a sensitive issue for the Dravidian parties as well as outfits of backward communities, since they hope it will provide the key to justify the existing 69 per cent quota for backward communities.
While the PMK was the first to come out with a resolution in its executive committee meeting at Thailapuram stressing on the importance of releasing the details of caste census, DMK leader M Karunanidhi too joined the chorus.
Thamizhaga Vazhvurimai Kathci leader T Velmurugan, who underlined the significance of the demand, said it would be helpful in protecting the 69 per cent reservation for backward communities in Tamil Nadu.
Further, the caste census would give an idea as toi whether reservation had benefited the targeted communities or people of other communities have exploited it. In his view most of the really backward and SC communities in Tamil Nadu lose their opportunities to people from other States who also claim reservation benefits in Tamil Nadu.
Political commentator Govi Lenin said release of caste census would have a positive impact as the real population of various communities would be known. The Supreme Court had already raised questions over fixing 69 per cent reservation based on the 1934 census. Only a new caste data could justify Tamil Nadu’s case in the Supreme Court and the existing reservation quota, he said.
On the possibility of a few caste outfits exploiting the situation to seek more representation in education and employment if their number was found to be high, he said such demands would be exposed by the caste data as none of the communities could have a huge presence in the State as they claim.
However, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi functionary D Ravikumar has disputed the notion that caste census would help to protect 69 per cent reservation in Tamil Nadu. With the Supreme Court fixing an upper ceiling for reservation, a relaxation would not be possible for Tamil Nadu alone. The only solution would be allowing the States to fix the reservation for various communities through a legislation in Parliament, he said and added that his party too supported the removal of the upper ceiling for reservation as it had no logic.
The Dravidian parties, which evolved from the South Indian Liberal Federation popularly known as Justice Party have their roots in reservation. It’s prime demand was educational and employment opportunities for non-Brahmins in the erstwhile Madras Presidency.
Although, reservation for a few dominant communities was provided earlier in Karnataka, quota for the oppressed communities was introduced by the Justice Party through the communal GO when it captured power in the presidency in 1921. Dravidar Kazhagam founder EVR Periyar quit the Congress following differences over the quota issue.
The DMK,which was formed in 1949 derived its support from the backward communities, though a large section of this turned to the AIADMK. When AIADMK founder MGR questioned the reservation policy and spoke about favouring the economically deprived, he suffered a rout in the 1980 Parliament elections. Subsequently, he raised the quota to 69 per cent. Since then, both the major Dravidian parties are vying with each other to score political points on the reservation issue.
karunanidhi on the Same Page
Chennai: DMK president M Karunanidhi on Monday demanded the release of caste census as it would be helpful to raise the quantum of reservation for the backward communities and people belonging to the SC/ST communities, besides formulating schemes for their economic progress. He also cited the statement of CPM politburo that the caste census be subjected to an analysis and the PMK’s resolution in this regard. Referring to the protest announced by RJD leader Lalu Prasad, he also drew attention to the Congress’ charge that the Centre should not try to conceal the caste data. The DMK leader referred to the number of families without land and depending on daily labour. He also expressed concern over the number of families involved in garbage collection and begging.