While the recent posturing by PMK founder S Ramadoss was largely viewed as an attempt to regain lost political ground, there seems to be much opposition within the Vanniyar community to the path he has now taken.
Speaking to Express, a few other Vanniyar leaders, who had in the past worked closely with Ramadoss, said an illusion was being created that the entire community was behind the PMK in its recent decisions and views on Dalits.
Prominent among those who expressed concern was Dheeran, former president of PMK and one of the founding members of the Vanniyar Sangam. According to him, Ramadoss whipping up caste feelings was a clear ploy at gaining political momentum that he was aiming to leverage during elections.
Dheeran said it was a long-held view of senior Vanniyar leaders that power could not be achieved in isolation.
When the Vanniyar Sangam was floated, a conscious decision was taken to unite all working-class communities, including Dalits, as a unique form of social engineering. “But this has been time and again abdicated by Ramadoss, who worked towards selfish ends,” he said.
While condemning the views that Ramadoss had expressed on Dalit youth, he said the statements indirectly threw aspersions on the mental strength of Vanniyar women. “He says women are going behind Dalit youth attracted by coolers and jeans. Is this the way to talk about women of the community?” he questioned.
Vel Murugan, a former PMK MLA who has now floated the Tamil Vazhurimai Katchi, echoed Dheeran’s views. “Since I began the party, a number of former MLAs and senior leaders, including district secretaries, have willingly joined it. This itself is ample proof that not all Vanniyars are behind Ramadoss,” he pointed out.
Also, he said the secular legacy of great Vanniyar leaders, including Ramasami Padayachi, dictated that “divisive campaigns” be countered.