SALEM: It was Chief Minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader M. Karunanidhi, who conferred the Most Backward Class (MBC) status on the Vanniyar caste in 1989, said the Agriculture Minister, Veerapandi S. Arumugam.
Participating at a government function at Pethanaickenpalayam in Attur block near here on Friday, the Minister chronologically traced the incidents that had led to the conferring of the MBC status on Vanniyar caste in Tamil Nadu.
He said that while seeking reservation, Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) leader Dr. S. Ramadoss, then leader of Vanniyar Sangam, organised a series of agitations in which 23 persons lost their lives.
More than 40,000 cases were registered against those who participated in the protests. “But when the DMK came to power, Dr. Ramadoss, through me, spoke to the Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and got the MBC status for Vanniyars,” he said.
In fact for the first time, the Minister pointed out, the total reservation in Tamil Nadu reached 61 per cent with 20 per cent for MBCs and 30 per cent for BCs. The then DMK government also withdrew all cases related to the Vanniyars’ agitations and granted a monthly solatium of Rs. 3000 to the families of 23 who died during the agitation. “But Dr. Ramadoss is running the political party to project the caste for some political gains,” he charged.
Taking a dig at the new parties and its leaders who he said are calling themselves as Chief Ministers, Mr. Arumugam said that it was the Dravidian movement led by Periyar and nurtured by C. N. Annadurai and M. Karunanidhi, that had ushered in a sea-change in the socio, economic and political status of Tamils.
The sacrifices of Dravidian leaders had paved the way for reservation in Tamil Nadu. As a result, in 1951 16 per cent of reservation for SC and ST and 25 per cent for other backward classes (OBC) were made. Again in 1971 and based on recommendations of the Sattanathan Committee, the then DMK government increased the OBC reservation to 31 per cent, and for SC and ST to 18 per cent.
And again in 1989 after the agitation by Vanniar Sangam, the DMK government conferred an exclusive 20 per cent reservation on MBCs, taking them away from the OBC group, he noted. Attur Congress MLA M. R. Sundaram and others spoke. Collector N. Mathivanan presided over the function.