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Minutes before poll dates announcement, TN govt provides 10.5% reservation for Vanniyar community

It is seen as a crucial decision by the AIADMK regime to retain PMK in their alliance even as the party has no representation in the state assembly.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai |
February 27, 2021 9:46:52 am
Tamil nadu poll dates, Tamil nadu assembly elections, Tamil nadu reservation system, Vanniyar community, Tamil Nadu CM, Indian expressTamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami. (File)

Minutes before the Election Commission of India announced the dates for the upcoming assembly polls, the Tamil Nadu assembly Friday passed a bill to provide a 10.5 per cent of special reservation for the Vanniyar community in educational institutions and in the appointment of posts in services under the state.

A decision acceding to the demand of Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), an ally of AIADMK and NDA, which enjoys the support of the Vanniyar community in northern Tamil Nadu, is seen as a crucial decision by the AIADMK regime to retain PMK in their alliance even as the party has no representation in the state assembly.

A statement detailing the “object and reasons” for the decision from Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said, “there had been consistent representations from the Most Backward Class of Vanniakula Kshatriya for providing separate reservation for them in admission to such educational institutions and in the appointment of posts in the services under the state as they could not compete with the other castes and communities included in the list of MBC and denitrified communities…”

The statement said the chairman of the Backward Classes Commission examined the demand made by various categories and recommended to the government that internal reservation may be given for three categories, namely, MBC (V) – 10.5 per cent, MBC and denotified communities – 7 per cent and MBC – 2.5 per cent. The statement clarifies that the special reservation for Vanniyars would be within the existing 20 per cent reservation for MBCs.

Currently, the state has 69 per cent reservations including 18 per cent for Scheduled Caste, 1 per cent for Scheduled Tribe category, 20 per cent for Most Backward Castes (MBC) and 30 per cent reservation for Other Backward Castes (OBC). The OBC quota includes reservations for minority communities including a 3.5 per cent reservation for Muslims.

While Tamil Nadu has been known for reservation for the underprivileged communities for several decades, the state had 16 per cent of reservation for SC and ST communities, and 25 per cent for other backward classes (OBC) in 1951 itself.

It was the M Karunanidhi regime in 1971 that increased the OBC reservation to 30 per cent and 18 per cent for SC and STs. Karunanidhi’s third regime conferred 20 per cent exclusive reservation for MBCs, a decision which was seen as a radical move as it had classified them as a separate category out of the OBC category.

The hurried decision of the AIADMK government on Friday, hardly an hour before the ECI announcement came in Delhi, was acceding to the demand of NDA ally PMK. While it was seemingly impossible for the government to give a special reservation for a single community alone as it would lead to a chaotic situation when other politically powerful communities such as Thevars and Goundars would raise the same demand, the immediate solution before the government to douse the fire in last December, followed by violent protests by PMK, was making a promise to set up a commission to examine and suggest methodologies to conduct a caste-based survey in the state, the first such exercise after the 1950s. The caste-based survey also was a long pending demand of many Tamil parties and communities.

However, the original demand of PMK was for 20 per cent reservation in government jobs and education in the state for Vanniyars. Their grievance was that the community accounts for 25 per cent of the state population but their representation in government jobs is less than 8 per cent. The latest promise of 10.5 per cent reservation means it would reflect in admissions to educational institutions including private educational institutions and in appointments or posts in the services coming under the state.

The government said the reservation will be provided on a temporary basis for the six months and that it will be reworked based on its findings when the caste-based census is published.

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