The State government should take adequate steps to ensure meaningful Dalit participation in local body governance as elected Dalit members in many villages are not able to function independently and freely, Thol. Thirumavalavan, MP and president, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, said on Sunday.
In an interview, he said the 73rd Constitutional Amendment instituted a policy of political reservation in local government and ensured participatory democracy at the grassroots-level for historically disadvantaged social groups, including Dalits and women.
“However, in many places, the decentralised nature of grassroots democracy has made it easier for local elites to hold sway over village panchayats,” he said.
Political mobilisation and assertion of Dalits had, unfortunately, led to an increase in attacks on them. When the VCK wanted to come out of dependence on the State’s principal political parties - the DMK or the AIADMK - and join the mainstream even while adhering to its core ideals of safeguarding rights for Scheduled Castes, casteist forces joined hands and sought to target the VCK, he charged.
He contended that the formation of Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK)-backed Anaithu Samuthaya Iyakkam was in response to the emergence of the VCK as a significant political force.
In the past 20 years, Dalits-backed political parties had launched several agitations on a number of issues including equal status in temples for worship and performance of rites and equal rights in auctioning of common property resources.
On the decision of Dalit leaders Parithi Elamvazhuthi and E. Ponnusamy to join the AIADMK, Mr. Thirumavalavan said it was a sign of “social insecurity,” and it was the rigidity of caste structure that did not allow Dalit leaders to identify themselves with Dalit parties.
No other mainstream party other than the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was paying homage to six elected panchayat Dalit members who died fighting for their political rights in Melavalavu near Madurai in 1997 where they were hacked to death for contesting elections.
He wanted the DMK, the Dravidar Kazhagam, and the Communist Party of India to participate in the Memorial Day and recognise their sacrifice.
On Neyveli Lignite Corporation disinvestment issue, the VCK’s stand was that the Centre should not divest shares of the NLC to the private sector. The VCK supported Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s offer to buy the stake through Tamil Nadu’s public sector undertakings.
Mr.Thirumavalavan appealed to the State government to appoint a monitoring committee to ensure proper implementation of post Matric scholarship scheme for SC/ST students and Dalit Christians.