Brahmin babus returned to dominate TN in 1976: WikiLeaks cable
Five months after President’s rule was imposed in Tamil Nadu (TN) during the Emergency in 1976, a section of Congress leaders was worried over the return of Brahmin IAS officers in key positions, according to a Kissinger-era WikiLeaks’ US cable. However, US consulate officials in Chennai were not wholly convinced about the changing caste equations in the bureaucracy.
A cable titled ‘Political and Caste Pressures in TN’ dated July 14, 1976, said the then Rajya Sabha Vice Chairman Godley Murahari had told a senior US diplomat that there was an increasing “Brahmin Flavour” to State government under President’s rule. Murahari, a Congress leader, had made the observation on July 2, 1976, five months after the Karunanidhi Government was dismissed.
Murahari, who had made several trips to TN, had “warned” then Congress president D K Barooah and Union Minister of State for Home Om Mehta about this. “They agreed that it had been an error to send two Brahmin advisors,” Murahari had said referring to P K Dave and Subramanian, advisors to the Governor.
Murahari claimed that as a result of transfers and reshuffling of IAS personnel 12 of the 14 Government Secretaries and 80% of district Collectors were Brahmins. He felt Subramaniam was “consciously working in this direction” and told Barooah and Mehta that even local Congress (R) leaders were disgruntled over this.
They feared the Congress’ political prospects would be affected in TN. However, then US Consul General informed American Embassy, New Delhi, that Murahari’s views can’t be accepted in total.
“ConGen Madras concedes some truth in the charge that some Brahmins have been placed in key positions (sic) and that a disproportionate number have received the more desirable jobs. However, its sources believe that this is merely a re-balancing of the scales, untilting the tile against (sic) the Brahmins which existed so openly in the Kamaraj and especially in the DMK years,” the cable said.
The Consulate General said the Chief Secretary, Inspector General of Police, Madras Police Commissioner and High Court Chief Justice were non-Brahmins.
Contending that Murahari’s figures were exaggerated, the Consul General said only 8 Secretaries and 4-5 Collectors were Brahmins. “The ConGen has not yet heard of any dissatisfaction within the TNPCC over alleged Brahmin domination,” the cable said.
Consulate officials thought the Centre will want to do everything to keep the anti-Brahmin issue on ice.
Stating that the DMK was “severely circumscribed” in its political activities, the cable said “…the weaker the DMK becomes, the less likely are the chances of revising this emotional issue (anti-Brahmin stance).”
Consular officials advised the Embassy not to draw conclusions on changing caste equations based solely on Murahari’s account. “We and Madras will continue to keep an eye on this potentially explosive issue,” the cable said.