On Monday, it was barely 10 minutes into the start of the assembly session, when opposition MLAs led by the DMK stormed out citing a slew of issues that the AIADMK had allegedly failed to address in the state. The ruling party's support to the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was one of the topmost reasons for the walkout. But much to the surprise of onlookers, following the opposition MLAs out of the Assembly was a legislator whose party is in alliance with the AIADMK.
It was Manithaneya Makkal Katchi MLA Thamimun Ansari who had come to the Secretariat dressed in black attire as a sign of protest against CAA and NRC. Ansari had worn a printed t-shirt that said 'No NRC, NPR and CAA' on the front and had pictures of Mahatma Gandhi and Subash Chandra Bose on the back.
In Tamil, Ansari raised slogans against the Act before returning to the House.
TN MLA Tamimun Ansari who won under AIADMK symbol arrives at TN assembly wearing black t-shirt and raising slogans against #CAA_NRC_NPR. Assembly session will begin today with customary Governor's address. pic.twitter.com/lRII2alwNGâ€” Mugilan Chandrakumar (@Mugilan__C) January 6, 2020
For the ruling AIADMK, this is the third such display of disagreement by its leaders from the minority community in just the last two weeks. The party's MPs in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya had supported the Bill. The move, in addition to adding fuel to the opposition's charge of the AIADMK being a BJP 'stooge', also irked its own Muslim leaders.
The first expression of fear came from the AIADMK Labour Minister Nilofer Kafeel in December. After being subjected to a barrage of questions from the Muslim community as she toured the state ahead of the local body polls, she was forced to admit that she did not have the right answers to offer.
"I am scared. I can't deny it. I am also a Muslim and from the same community," she told TNM. "Everyone is scared about what documents we will need," she explained.
Former AIADMK MP Anhwar Raja, whose daughter and son lost the local body elections blamed the party's support for the Act for the defeat. He told TNM, "We were highly affected in the Muslim quarters because of CAA. It makes sense to have it in states with porous borders. But why in Tamil Nadu?"
He adds that he has conveyed his concerns to the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister and that discussions were underway amongst the senior leaders.
"Very soon, you will see the party making its view on the matter clear," he says. "We oppose the introduction of NRC, NPR and CAA across the country," he adds.
AIADMK sources close to the Chief Minister however deny giving second thought to the support pledged for the Act.
"These leaders are bringing up CAA now because they need to protect their own vote back and not because of concern for Muslims as a whole. They believe that the party's support for CAA will affect their political future," a source said. "For Anhwar Raja, it is just his inability to accept the loss of his children. Other candidates have lost too and nobody is blaming NRC or CAA," he added.
He further added that the Muslim leaders have not consulted the Chief Minister regarding the issue.
"They have just been doing these token protests," he alleges.