Hours after Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam said that the 10.5% internal reservation provided to Vanniyars is provisional, PMK founder Ramadoss has come out and said that the law passed by the state Legislative Assembly is permanent. The tug of war between two leaders of the AIADMK-led alliance in Tamil Nadu is an attempt at keeping their respective caste groups happy.
PMK, in a statement released on Tuesday, has said that people who call the law providing 10.5% quota to Vanniyars are ignorant about social justice. “The reservation granted to Vanniyars is not a caste issue, it is an issue related to the state’s social justice and development… If a law is passed in the legislative assembly (and receives Governor’s assent and published in the state gazette), it is permanent. There is nothing called a ‘temporary law’. Until another law is passed to replace this, this Act will prevail,” the statement explained.
It added that Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, during the debate on the Vanniyar reservation bill in the Assembly, had said that the law is only the first step and that the quota will be increased based on the result of the caste-based Census that has been announced by the state government.
The statements of both the leaders are being viewed as efforts to keep their respective caste groups happy. Several reports indicated that the other caste groups within the Most Backward Communities (MBC) category are not happy with the Vanniyars getting an exclusive reservation of 10.5% out of the 20% reservation available to the MBC. This leaves the other caste groups with just 9.5% to divide amongst themselves.
O Panneerselvam’s words are being seen as an attempt to console Thevars (also a part of Mukkulathor) who form a majority of the MBC votes in southern Tamil Nadu. Historically, political parties in Tamil Nadu have been consolidating caste votes propping up leaders from the respective castes. Meanwhile, S Ramadoss’s statement is seen as an attempt to pacify Vanniyars by assuring them that the quota provided to them will not be snatched away after the elections.
Speaking to TNM, senior journalist K Venkataramanan said that a law once passed is permanent and it cannot be replaced or changed unless an amendment is passed to that effect. “I have read the bare act (of Vanniyar reservation) and there is nothing in the Act to indicate that it is temporary or provisional,” he said.
With AMMK chief TTV Dhinakaran accusing Thevars (like OPS) of facilitating the 10.5% Vanniyars quota, the Deputy CM who is facing ire from leaders from his own community, is attempting to placate them. But for PMK, this is the biggest poll plank and they will not allow their voters to forget the victory.