In a clear well, a planned political ploy to deceive the Dalits and to redeem their vote bank back, the Dravidian stock secular DMK Government has adopted a resolution in the State Assembly urging the Central Government to bring amendments in the laws to pave the way for giving reservation to the Adi Dravidians who have converted to Christianity.
The Government resolution moved by Chief Minister MK Stalin in the House urged the Central Government “to make necessary amendments to the Constitution to extend statutory protection, rights and concessions including reservation as provided to the people belonging to schedule castes (SC) under the Indian Constitution also the SCs who have converted to Christianity, to enable them to avail the benefits of social justice in all aspects”.
Moving the resolution, Chief Minister Stalin said, “Adi Dravidar people continue to suffer caste atrocities like untouchability even after converting to other religions. Hence, we must give it a kind consideration.” He said the Constitution does not allow people other than Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists to be treated as SC’s. The Chief Minister said, “When they are historically Adi Dravidars, it would be fair to offer them the rights of SC. It would only fetch those education and job opportunities, contributing to their social development.”
Tamil Nadu CM said that it was unfair to deny Dalit Christians the rights enjoyed by the other members of the Adi Dravidar community on the ground of religious conversion; the CM said, “People have the right to practice the religion of their liking. But caste is not liable to change. Instead of it signifying the differences among people, caste prescribes one as high and another low (in the social hierarchy). Altogether, it is a social disorder.”
Justifying the need for the resolution, he said the principle of social justice improvises the same caste, which oppressed people through inequality, to facilitate social progress by way of reservation; the CM said that it would be fair to extend the constitutionally guaranteed social justice rights to the Adi Dravidars who converted to Christianity. Recalling the letters former DMK president M Karunanidhi wrote to the then Prime Minister in this regard in 1996, 2006, 2010 and 2011, the CM referred to the inclusion of Sikhs in 1956 and Buddhists in 1990 by way of Constitutional Amendment and said that the Adi Dravidars who converted to Christianity are also expecting a similar amendment.
Referring to the statement of the vice chairman of the National SC Commission last year that SC certificates of Adi Dravidars post-conversion was ‘invalid’ and ‘fake’, the CM-said-that, said the Justice K G Balakrishnan, led commission constituted by the Union Government must submit its final report on the issue after touring countrywide and consulting all State Governments.
The resolution was ‘unanimously’ adopted by the House through a voice vote. The four BJP legislators opposed the resolution and walked out of the Assembly.
The BJP members walked out of the House protesting against the Government’s move, which, they said, was a political move.
CM Stalin said a person’s will decided religion, but it was not so when it came to caste. People from the adi dravidar community faced social problems and atrocities even after changing their religion. He said in Tamil Nadu, these Dalits enjoyed all benefits on a par with their Hindu counterparts except reservation. “It is important that the converted adi dravidar Christians also enjoy the benefits to ensure social justice,” he said.
As per Census 2011, 1.44 crore Adi Dravidar constitute 20.01 per cent of the total population of Tamil Nadu (7.21 crore). The earlier attempts by State Governments failed to obtain legal approval. Political analyst Bala Gauthaman said, “With political agenda, DMK Government moved this resolution to redeem back the lost Dalit vote bank. Dalits are not happy with the way they have been treated by the self-proclaimed social justice movement parties and not given them due place in society. Even dalit presidents have been denied the right to hoist the national flag and are not allowed to sit among them. The CM, his son and Speaker M Appavy and ministers have admitted that it is their (Christian) Government. Pastor Ponnaiah and others openly said it was their alms (votes) DMK was able to win and rule the state. Stalin son and Minister Udhaya Nidhi Stalin said that his wife is a Christian and he is also the same. So it is appeasement to win their votes. It is also div6ersionary tactic to cover up its failures and turn attention from the corruption charges levelled by the BJP chief K Annamalai on the April 14. The Dravidian Stock Government is only interested in the welfare of a minority. People are fed up with the all-round hike in prices, steep stamp duty revision, and property tax and power consumption prices”.
He said DMK has been playing caste politics since its inception. It is against Brahmins, North vs south, and Hindus vs minorities. It is no wonder in the latest movie also. Divide and play politics, which it has inherited from its parent Justice Party that was a stooge of Britishers”.
Annamalai said last November, “The chief of the intelligence department, ADGP, who goes by the name you (media) mentioned (Davidson Devasirvatham). He has got a single point agenda to promote something in south Tamil Nadu. He clearly has links with missionary groups. He wants such officers in sensitive posts and is handpicking them. They are the ones being placed in power. Be it the Thanjavur Lavanya suicide, or the incident exposed by CNN News 18 where Bible was distributed to children in schools, all of this is an operation run by the Tamil Nadu [police] intelligence department. I am making an open observation. Let them deny it.”
If viewed in this context, it would give a fillip to the ongoing conversation activities since the DMK rode to power in 2021. It is always the case that whenever DMK comes to power, appeasement of minorities would be in high order. Political analyst Maridhass said that during the previous DMK Government, permission was granted to build nearly 15,000 churches. Last year an event was named Nehemiah Consultation and openly announced its intention to plant 4 lakh churches in 4 lahks “unchurched” villages of Bharat by 2030, calling it ‘Vision 2030 Nehemiah Push’. Planting churches is a trick of introducing Christianity to places where no Christians live.
Sumanth Raman @Sumantraman tweeter handle said, “There is no discrimination in other religions, and that is why they convert from Hinduism, then to say they face discrimination there also and therefore need a reservation even after conversion is a contradiction”.
Only recently, the apex court heard many petitions seeking the extension of reservation benefits available to the SC community. A bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Ahsanuddin Amanullah and Aravind Kumar was considering petitions which challenged the Constitution order to the extent it excludes a person who has converted to Christianity and Islam even while it includes the converts to Buddhism and Sikhism. Justice Kaul stated, “What they are saying is that the person is carrying a tag even when they move to Islam or Christianity.”
It is pertinent in March this year, the Kerala High Court declared the election of CPI(M) MLA A Raja from the Devikulam assembly segment in the Idukki district as null and void, holding that as a baptised Christian, he is ineligible to contest from a seat reserved for members of SC.
Tamil Nadu Government has been passing bills knowing well that they will not get the approval of the Governor. It is an opportunity for DMK and its allies to war with him verbally. This bill will, in all probability, be returned for reconsideration, and if returned by the Government after readopting, the Governor would send it to the President for his consideration.