The BJP is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that it expands its support among all major communities in Tamil Nadu.
While national president Amit Shah will participate in a conference on August 6 in Madurai espousing the cause of the Devendra Kula Velalars, the State unit is now preparing to step up its campaign in support of long-held demands of the Thevars, a backward community with a decisive vote bank in the southern districts.
This would include backing the campaign to name the Madurai airport after Muthuramalinga Thevar. “We believe many facets of BJP ideology syncs with Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar’s ideals. We totally support his view that spirituality and nationalism should be our two eyes,” said a Tamil Nadu BJP leader.
A party source said the popular notion within the BJP was that the Dalits would be a difficult group to woo since there are multiple political movements already representing the community. A major chunk of Dalits also function in the two principal Dravidian parties.
However, the fragmentation of the community on sub-sect lines seems to have given the party an opening.
Professor at the Madras Institute of Development Studies, C. Lakshmanan, says targeting the Devendra Kula Velalars seems to be a specific strategy.
“On the ground, we see that the community is quite rigid when it comes to the practice of the Hindu tradition. Also, unlike the other sub-sects such as Pallars and Paraiyars, they still do not have a large political party to represent them. Hence, the BJP might think they could be taken into its fold,” opined Mr. Lakshmanan. While the Dalits and Thevars have had serious differences in the Southern districts, those in the RSS state they have co-existed well in their organisation. This could be a reason why the BJP backing both the communities simultaneously is not taken as a contradiction.
N. Sadagopan, media co-ordinator of the RSS, sought to dispel the notion that Dalits refused to be part of the Sangh, saying both Thevars and Dalits had been working closely with it.
“The name of Dalits, who are part of the Sangh may not figure prominently. This does not mean that they are not members of the RSS. We are working among them and one of our objectives is to prevent their conversion and to bring back to Hinduism those who have already converted,” he said.
In the early 1980s, Southern Tamil Nadu saw polarisation on religious lines after Rama Gopalan organised Hindu Awakening Conferences. Nadars and Thevars are the two communities that identified closely with the RSS and the BJP. For many years V. Rangasamy Thevar, originally a close associate of Rajaji in the Swatantra Party, functioned as the state leader of the RSS. After the RSS divided Tamil Nadu into North and South for administrative purposes, A. Adalarsan, a scion of the Ramnad royal family, has become the secretary of the South Tamil Nadu.
We believe many facets of BJP ideology syncs with Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar’s ideal: BJP leader