Tamil Nadu

Opinion split over ‘lack of support’ from SCs for AIADMK

The AIADMK, which is yet to deliberate officially on the reasons for its defeat in the Assembly election, is witnessing an informal discussion among many of its leaders on whether the “desertion” by the Scheduled Castes, regarded as a traditional vote bank of the party, contributed to its defeat in the recent Assembly election.

Those who place this argument are essentially from the northern districts, where the party won a mere 12 seats out of a total of 78. Their argument is based on two broad points. Ponneri, where the AIADMK and its allies won eight out of 10 Assembly elections since 1977, has gone to the rival camp this time. The AIADMK’s nominee and two-time legislator, P. Balaraman, lost to Durai Chandrasekar of the Congress by a margin of about 8,400 votes. The defeat of the trio of the north — C.Ve. Shanmugam (Villupuram), M.C. Sampath (Cuddalore) and K. Veeramani (Jolarpet), all Vanniyars — is cited as another instance to substantiate the argument, despite the three being regarded as “senior and indispensable” Ministers during the AIADMK regime.

Even one of the successful SC legislators of the party from the north concedes that in his constituency, 70 out of 75 “colonies”, the term normally used to denote settlements of the SCs, saw a dip in the votes he polled this time when compared to the 2016 poll. A former Minister feels that this time, he could sense a shift even among the traditional SC supporters of the party, and in his constituency of about 2.4 lakh voters, SCs account for around 75,000. The party’s decision to align with the PMK, clubbed with the AIADMK regime’s move to provide an internal reservation of 10.5% for Vanniyars within the quota for MBCs, appears to have led to the stance of the SCs.

However, there is another view within the party that the party’s performance in the SC constituencies in the north was not that bad. Out of 17 seats in the north earmarked for the SCs, the AIADMK fetched six, including Madurantakam, which was snatched from the DMK camp. Compared to its performance in Assembly segments two years ago during the Lok Sabha poll, the party had consistently done better this time. The factor of “fatigue” with the 10-year-long AIADMK regime; a complete loss of support among religious minorities due to the electoral tie-up with the BJP; and a lack of cohesion were responsible for the defeat, says another section of leaders. I. Pandiyan, an activist for SCs, says it is not fair to attribute one factor to the AIADMK’s performance. local situations and factors, which he calls “regional representative caste politics”, led to the AIADMK's poor show rather than the conclusion that SCs in general had turned against the AIADMK.

As for the south, the party seems to have had a different experience as seven constituents of SCs, now called “Devendrakula Velalar”, supported it in the wake of another policy measure of the State and Central governments, ahead of the Assembly poll, of providing the generic title. TMMK leader B. John Pandian, who contested unsuccessfully in Egmore as a nominee of the AIADMK, asserts that it was because of the support from the “Devendrakula Velalar” group of castes that the AIADMK and its allies were able to put up a decent performance. V. Kamaraja, founder-president of the Devendra Kula Mallar Chamber of Commerce, points out that despite the AIADMK-led coalition not having as many constituents as it did in 2019, the fact that it did better than expected in the region was because of the backing of the DKV group. He cites the victory of the AIADMK’s front in eight constituencies, including Kovilpatti and Tirunelveli, as an example to support his argument.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 2:07:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/opinion-split-over-lack-of-support-from-scs-for-aiadmk/article34807529.ece

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