Chennai, Jan. 8: In what seems to be a fight for a space within the existing space, Telugu-speaking Arundhatiyar (the equivalent of Madigas in Andhra Pradesh) organizations in the state demand six per cent reservation for the community within the 18 per cent allotted for the Scheduled Castes. “We demand six per cent reservation within the 18 per cent reservation for Scheduled Castes in Tamil Nadu,” Mr.R.Adhiyaman, President, Aathi Thamizhar Peravai, an umbrella organisation of Arundhatiyars in Tamil Nadu told this journalist.
Andhra Pradesh model where Madigas enjoyed seven per cent reservation for four years (2000-2004) emboldened Arundhatiyars in the state to renew their decades-old demand. “Andhra Pradesh government has given seven per cent reservation for Madigas in their state. But Supreme Court struck it down after four years. Tamil Nadu government should have the political will to follow that example,” Mr.Dayalan, President, Arundhatiyar Viduthalai Munnani, told this journalist.
Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) which is in the forefront of internal reservation struggles in the state is vocal about this issue. “Even before the PMK was launched in 1989, we have been demanding internal reservation for Arundhatiyars. We had a conference in Erode demanding internal reservation for Arundhatiyars,” Mr.S.Ramadoss, founder-president of PMK told this journalist. He insisted the Tamil Nadu government should consider this demand seriously.
“The demand for internal reservation for Arundhatiyars is valid and our party organised a huge rally in Chennai last year to press for this demand. We are going to press for it again at our state conference to be held in Madurai from January 8 to 10” Mr. N.Varadarajan, state secretary, CPM, told this journalist. He added, “I am confident that the Chief Minister will heed our demand.”
CPI’s state deputy secretary C.Mahendran said, “The government should understand that the Arundhatiyar community requires special measures to enhance its status in the society.” He added, “The dominant dalit political groups should give ground and help the state ensure special opportunities for the Arundhatiyars.”
Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) led by Mr.Thol.Thirumavalavan supported the demand of Arundhatiyars in their election manifesto during May 2006 Assembly polls in Tamil Nadu. But they retracted their stance after CPM took up the cause last year. When contacted by this journalist, Mr.Thirumavalavan said, “I will comment on this issue later.”
With parties such as PMK,CPM and CPI already expressing support, Aathi Thamizhar Peravai, United Arunthatiyar Front – a grouping of seven Arundhatiyar organizations are planning a huge rally in Chennai next month to demand six per cent reservation for Arundhatiyar community in Tamil Nadu.