In an attempt to reach out to the Thevar community, Vanniyar-based party is now glorifying Muthuramalinga Thevar.

PMK steps up caste-politics seeks renaming of Madurai airport after Thevar leaderImage: PMK FB page and Biswarup Ganguly/ Wikimedia Commons
news Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - 12:21

Along with the campaigning for total alcohol prohibition in the state, the Patalli Makkal Katchi is now trying to shed its tag as a Vanniyar-only party and move to other corners of the state. Its strategy remains the same – caste based politics. In a statement issued on Monday, PMK founder S Ramadoss demanded that Madurai airport be named after Muthuramalinga Thevar, an important icon of the powerful Thevar community, reports TOI.

The party has established presence in the Vanniyar belt of northern and upper-western Tamil Nadu. The sudden demand to rename the Madurai airport to glorify Muthuramalinga Thevar is being seen as an attempt to break into the southern districts where the Thevar community is dominant.

The PMK has a Vanniyar only-image and has been trying to bring about a change in that perception. Earlier this year, Anbumani Ramdoss had started a campaign on the lines of Obama’s 2008 ‘Hope’ campaign.

He had launched a stylish new website, www.anbumani4cm.com, replete will social media presence and strategic positioning. On the homepage, Anbumani is a farmer, a doctor and the former Union Health Minster rubbing shoulders with Bill and Melinda Gates. He presented himself as the new age leader of national character, but rooted in his community.

 Apart for the usual lip-service politicians pay for education, health and agriculture, Anbumani and the PMK have had a consistent stand against use of tobacco and alcohol.

In spite of his experience, a fairly successful stint as the Union Minister and his repackaged look, his party remains what it has always been: a caste-based political party restricted to one core voter-base, the Vanniyars. Their vote-share in the 2011 elections was just above 5%. But that doesn’t bog him down. When asked if he really think he can become the CM at a recent press conference, he is to have compared his campaign to that of Arvind Kejriwal’s in Delhi, stating that he too could emerge victorious similarly. He is raring to have a go at his opponents, he says. Clearly, his strategy to now reach out to the Thevars is an extension of his strategy.

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