Updated: September 4, 2021 10:09:16 am
A MONTH after clearing the implementation of 10.5 per cent reservation for the Vanniyar community in admissions and government jobs, Chief Minister M K Stalin on Thursday announced construction of a memorial in Villupuram for those killed in police firing during an agitation to demand separate quota for the community in 1987.
In his statement, Stalin said it was a promise he made during the Vikravandi by-election of 2019. The government will be spending Rs 4 crore for the memorial construction.
S Ramadoss, founder of the PMK, which is an AIADMK-BJP ally and has the backing of the Vanniyar community in northern Tamil Nadu, welcomed Stalin’s announcement. He termed the 1987 movement as a major struggle for social justice in India. The latest decision of the government was a recognition for those who sacrificed their lives, he said.
Incidentally, the PMK was one of the major challenges for the DMK in the last assembly elections as it claimed to have rallied almost the entire community for the AIADMK-BJP alliance in the election.
In fact, on February 27 this year, minutes before the model code of conduct kicked in ahead of the elections, the then AIADMK government headed by Edappadi K Palaniswami pushed through the 10.5 per cent quota Bill for the Vanniyar community in the assembly.
Palaniswami’s move to appease Vanniyars ahead of the polls was criticised later by the AIADMK camp led by O Panneerselvam, who belongs to another powerful backward community, Thevars. After the elections, the rival group claimed that the pro-Vanniyar announcement not only failed to help the party in the polls but also turned other backward communities against the AIADMK government.
However, soon after it came to power, the Stalin-led DMK government in the last week of July passed an order, clearing the way for the quota Bill to be implemented.
The current government’s efforts to reward a particular community is likely to face the wrath of other communities as the basis of the claims and aggressive lobbying by the PMK for special benefits have often been problematic.
The reservation for Vanniyars was based on a long-standing demand of the PMK for 20 per cent quota in government jobs and education for the community members, which was based on an argument that their community accounts for 25 per cent of the state population but got about 8 per cent representation in the reservation system.
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