TN provides 10.5% internal reservation to Vanniyars

Tamil Nadu govt hurries legislation providing 10.5% internal reservation to Vanniyars

With the legislation being passed, the alliance between PMK and AIADMK is now certain

The reservation, according to Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, is “temporary”. Credit: PTI.

Minutes before the date for Assembly election was announced, the AIADMK Government hurried through a legislation in the Tamil Nadu Assembly that provides 10.5 per cent internal reservation to Vanniyars, a dominant community in northern part of the state, within the 20 per cent reservation to MBCs.

The reservation, which according to Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami is “temporary” and will undergo changes once the data from a caste-based census is available, is a clear attempt to mollify Paatali Makkal Katchi (PMK), an ally of the AIADMK. The PMK, which champions the cause of Vanniyars, has been playing hardball with the AIADMK on the issue.

With the legislation being passed, the alliance between PMK and AIADMK is now certain. The PMK has been demanding internal reservation for members of the community, arguing that many of them still live in abject poverty.

The legislation was introduced and passed in the Assembly within minutes, as the government was running out of time due to announcement of poll schedule by the Election Commission of India (ECI). Not just the legislation, but Palaniswami made several announcements in the Assembly on Friday after it was announced that the ECI was holding a press conference at 4.30 pm.

The last-minute announcements include waiving off gold loans availed by farmers in the state. After tabling the Bill, Palaniswami said providing of 10.5 per cent reservation is only a temporary arrangement.

“Changes will be made (to this announcement) after a committee headed by Justice A Kulasekaran Commission to collect quantifiable data on castes, and communities submit its report in six months,” Palaniswami said. The development is significant as it comes just a few weeks before the state votes to elect its 16th assembly on April 6.

However, the legislation might open a Pandora’s box with experts predicting that other communities would also join the bandwagon and seek separate reservation.

PMK, which has been pushing for separate reservation for Vanniyars, welcomed the judgement. The party released a video in which its leader and former Union Minister Anbumani Ramadoss conveying the news to his father and PMK founder S Ramadoss with tears rolling down his cheeks. “It is a 40-year struggle,” Anbumani is seen telling his father.

PMK is a very crucial ally for the AIADMK as the former commands a committed vote bank of 5 per cent, especially in the northern districts.

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