Vanniyar reservation: ‘Temporary’ solution to four-decade campaign

They went on a massive protest in 1987 across north districts, paralysing transport and gathering attention. What followed was a sweeping police action that saw 21 protestors being killed.

Published: 27th February 2021 04:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th February 2021 04:52 AM   |  A+A-

File photo of PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss thanking Chief Minister Palaniswami for the separate reservation for Vanniyars

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The Bill providing separate quota for Vanniyars is the culmination of a four-decade campaign that, at times, turned violent. In the early eighties, the demand gathered steam when over 10 Vanniyar associations united under the banner of Vanniyar Sangam, led by S Ramadoss.

They went on a massive protest in 1987 across north districts, paralysing transport and gathering attention. What followed was a sweeping police action that saw 21 protestors being killed. Subsequently, the MGR-led AIADMK government convened a meeting with all caste leaders.

But before taking any decision, MGR died in December 1987, and the AIADMK government fell within a month. When DMK came to power in the next election, the M Karunanidhi-led government introduced 20 per cent reservation to 108 communities, including Vanniyars, under a new category: ‘Most Backward Class and Denotified Communities’ by dividing the Backward Class quota.

After this success, Ramadoss floated Pattali Makkal Katchi and enjoyed the support of Vanniyar community. Within a few years, he again started to demand an exclusive reservation to Vanniyars by claiming they are not getting adequate representation in MBC quota. This issue again came to limelight in December 2020 when PMK cadre staged protests, including blocking of trains.

Following this the TN government constituted a commission headed by retired judge A Kulasekaran to collect quantifiable data on castes, communities and tribes and other details of them. The issue got complicated when other Backward class caste groups also started demanding exclusive reservation for them.

DMK had been critical by pointing out that it had made the same offer of internal reservation within the MBC quota to PMK earlier, but the party had then rejected it and now reversed its stand when AIADMK government offered the same. Even hours after the Bill was passed, except PMK and CPM, no other party had commented on the move making apparent the complexities involved in the issue.

While PMK welcomed it, CPM criticised it. The party’s state secretary K Balakrishnan said, “It was purely done for short term political mileage. If they have the genuine intention they should have been done well ahead of the elections.”

Jayalalithaa Univ
Villupuram District collector A Annadurai inaugurated the Dr Jayalalithaa University in Villupuram, shortly before the dates for Assembly polls were announced, on Friday. AIADMK sources said the University was launched just minutes before poll dates were announced, to ensure functionality of varsity immaterial of the Assembly election results.


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