Viral video on inter-caste marriage scheme in DMK manifesto is misleading, here’s why

The controversy relates to the Anjugam Ammal Memorial Intercaste Marriage Assistance Scheme, which is mentioned in the DMK's manifesto.
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A viral video in Tamil that is doing the rounds on the internet claims that a specific point in DMK’s election manifesto promises Rs 60,000 as a cash gift for inter-caste couples if the woman is from one of the dominant communities that he goes on to list. The man making the false claims in the video goes on to list a few dominant caste names like Mudaliyar, Brahmin, Naidu, Vanniyar, Yadhavar, Nadar, Agamudaiyar, Reddiyar, Pillai, Kallar, Maravar, Chettiyar and Kongu Vellalar, among others. He claims that, according to the DMK manifesto, if a woman belonging to the above-mentioned caste is married to an Adi Dravidar man, the couple will be gifted Rs 60,000 in cash and eight gram (22 carats) gold coin. In Tamil Nadu, the Adi Dravidars fall under the Scheduled Caste. However, point 259 in the DMK manifesto does not mention any specific community or that the bride should be from the dominant caste as the man claims in his video. 

It only talks about rejuvenating and reintroducing the Anjugam Ammal Memorial Intercaste Marriage Assistance scheme. The original scheme was introduced in 1967 to encourage inter-caste marriages and later renamed after Anjugam Ammaiyar, the mother of the late DMK supremo, M Karunanidhi. The point in the manifesto states that if one of the two persons is a member of the Adi Dravidar or Scheduled Tribe communities, and if they are marrying outside their caste, they will be given Rs 60,000 fund and an eight gram (22 carats) gold coin. It doesn’t exclude Christians or Muslims either, as alleged by the man. 

The Anjugam Ammal Memorial Intercaste Marriage Assistance Scheme was introduced in July 1967. During the AIADMK’s rule, this scheme was renamed as Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy Ninaivu Intercaste Marriage Assistance Scheme. Anjugam Ammaiyar was the mother of the late DMK supremo, M Karunanidhi. The scheme grants Rs 50,000 for graduate couples and Rs 25,000 for a non-graduate couple. In fact, not just Tamil Nadu, even other states like Karnataka have similar schemes that provide monetary assistance to couples who marry outside of their communities, if one of them is from the scheduled castes. The Union government also has a scheme that provides financial support to inter caste couples, where one of them is from the scheduled castes. Between 2013-14 and 2019-20, around 1.2 lakh couples have received assistance through this scheme, as per a report

Referring to point 259 in DMK’s manifesto, the man goes on to warn dominant caste people to “protect their women,” lest someone from the Adi Dravidar community marries them for money. “This is an instigation by the DMK of the Adi Dravidar youth. DMK has made this election promise under the guise of “anti-caste” marriage. Why have they not named all the communities? Why have they named only these communities in specific?” he is seen asking. His question is why doesn’t the scheme include Christians or Muslims and why does it target only those from the castes he listed out. He also goes on to urge parents of daughters to ‘be careful’ and adds that ‘others’ will sketch a plot to take their daughters away from them under the guise of intercaste marriage. “Why aren’t minorities added to the list? Because there will be riots if they are added (to the ‘list’ of castes). Udayars are not added in the list. Why? Because the udayars across the state will rise up in protest. But Mudaliars, brahmins don’t have shame, Naidus -- don’t even have to say, I am speaking for the Vanniyars and pointing out that this is wrong….,” he goes on in the video. 

The truth, however, is contrary to his claims in the video. 

Speaking to TNM, Tamizhan Prasanna, DMK’s official spokesperson, said, “We are a land of social justice. All our leaders like Anna, Periyar and Karunanidhi have categorically said that inter-caste marriages are efficient (or effective?) in eradicating caste structure. And such schemes have been in existence since 1967.”

He alleged that BJP and RSS members are behind such videos, which are made with the intent of disrupting communal harmony. “They are trying to spoil the systematic eradication of caste and are trying to create communal agitation. We have not mentioned any such caste names as claimed in the video,” he added.

Addressing the controversy during his press meet, DMK MP RS Bharathi said, “The Anjugam Ammal Memorial Intercaste Marriage Assistance Scheme is a 55-year-old scheme. It continues to be in existence under different names even to this day. We have announced that we would be increasing the cash by Rs 10,000. A few have been falsely propagating this for the past two days. We will find out who they are and take action accordingly.” 

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