Tamil Nadu

Consolidation of minority votes boosts DMK front’s Kanniyakumari tally

Consolidation of minority votes is believed to have played a crucial role in tilting the balance in favour of the DMK-Congress alliance in the six Assembly constituencies of Kanniyakumari district. While the DMK’s candidates won from Nagercoil, Kanniyakumari and Padmanabhapuram constituencies, the Congress tasted success in Colachel, Vilavancode and Killiyur constituencies.

The DMK alliance also included political parties representing the minorities such as Manithaneya Makkal Katchi and Indian Union Muslim League.

Father M. Jagath Gasper Raj, a native of the southern district and a DMK sympathiser, says that the “DMK alliance benefitted both from the consolidation of minority votes and committed party cadres from all communities.”

Kanniyakumari, a communally sensitive district, witnessed communal mobilisation in the wake of Mandaikadu riots in the early 1980s.

Bishop Council appeal

“The consolidation of minorities against the BJP and the AIADMK, which is seen as an extension of the BJP, is already there,” said former IAS officer M.G. Devasahayam. However, as someone who had opposed the Tamil Nadu Bishop’s Council’s call to vote for the DMK alliance, Mr. Devasahayam does not agree that the appeal facilitated the party’s sweep.

Stressing that there was no official appeal from the Bishop’s Council, Mr. Raj contended that only a few individuals used the name of the Bishop Council to seek votes for the DMK-Congress combine.

But G. Selestine, president of the Tamil Nadu Meenpidi Thozhilalar Kootamaipu (Federation of Fishermen), squarely blamed the Bishop’s Council for the consolidation of minority votes. He had written a strongly worded letter to the Bishop’s Council that it could not seek votes for the DMK alliance certifying it as “secular”.

“The Bishop’s Council conveniently forgot the fact that both the DMK and the AIADMK had aligned with the BJP in the past for their own political purpose,” he said.

Mr. Selestine, whose brother G. Soosai Antony was responsible for putting an end to the past practice of the church using its pulpit sermon to make political appeals in Kanniyakumari, said many small bodies like Andhiyams affiliated to the Catholic Church made use of the appeal of the Bishop’s Council to get votes for the DMK alliance.

He said the Church remained silent in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls as they had sensed the wave in favour of the BJP and any message against the BJP candidate in the district would have worked against them after the elections. “They have no business to seek votes for political parties. They have not done anything to help the Dalit Christians, who are demanding SC status,” he said.

Advocate Krishna Jinnah said apart from Christians, Muslims in the district also threw their weight behind the DMK alliance. “But I will not agree that fishermen’s vote went fully in favour of the DMK alliance.

If it had happened, DMK candidate S. Austin’s victory margin would have been more,” he said.

A communally sensitive district, voters in Kanniyakumari are divided on religious and caste lines

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 6:07:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/consolidation-of-minority-votes-boosts-dmk-fronts-kanniyakumari-tally/article8627943.ece

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