In a strategic move ahead of the impending Lok Sabha elections, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin has unveiled a series of appeasement measures aimed at winning the support of the minority communities in the state.
The recent meeting chaired by the Chief Minister focused on reviewing steps taken for the welfare of minorities and included several announcements to address their concerns. Key measures include plans to include girl students from classes 6 to 12 in Tamil-medium government-aided minority schools, extending the Chief Minister’s breakfast scheme to students in classes 1 to 5 in such institutions, and establishment of a web portal for streamlined administrative processes.
Additionally, there are proposals to relax age limits for teacher appointments and issue indefinite validity for Religious Minority status certificates for institutions. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin, in a meeting with Christian religious leaders and representatives, announced significant measures to address concerns faced by the minority community. One key highlight was Stalin’s assurance of making the ‘Religious Minority’ status certificate for minority institutions indefinitely valid, eliminating the need for renewal every five years. Additionally, plans were unveiled to extend the establishment of hi-tech labs and facilities, such as Vanavil Mandram, to government-aided minority schools.
A Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) is also in the pipeline to streamline processes for seeking permission to set up places of worship and renovation projects. The meeting, attended by Christian leaders, Minorities Commission Chairman Peter Alphonse, and MLA Inigo Irudhyaraj, aimed to address various challenges faced by the minority community, including innovative measures to overcome space scarcity in cemeteries. However, critics have raised concerns about the government’s allocation of funds for such pro-minority initiatives, citing financial crises.
Attended by Christian religious leaders, chairman of the Minorities Commission Peter Alphonse and MLA Inigo Irudhyaraj, the meeting was called to discuss the various problems faced by the community on various fronts like certain rules impeding the ushering in of innovative measures to tide over the scarcity of space in cemeteries.
Critics point out “the government which says is in deep fund crisis , has been generous in extending welfare schemes for minorities. It has funds to set up a modern film city to be built in Poonamallee, at a cost of Rs 500 crore on 140 acres of land, 135 feet pen memorial for Karunanidhi at a cost of 81 crore, and Chennai Formula 4 Racing Circuit and various projects in Karunanidhi’s name including 100th year of his birth centenary celebrations. It has excluded state and central govt employees, IT payees and sugar ration card holders from receiving pongal hamper but did not wise to minorities and people other states who do no celebrate Pongal festival. After the outcries, at the last minute all card holders will ve eligible to get the hamper”.
Reacting strongly, State President of Hindu Munnani Kadeshwara Subramaniam has criticised CM Stalin and his allies, for their focused efforts on minority appeasement at the cost of the majority Hindu population which is being treated step motherly manner. He was referring the DMK government appears to be emphasizing its commitment to minorities, positioning itself as a government catering primarily to their needs.
In a press release, Hindu Munnani president said “a consultation meeting on minority welfare held at the Chennai Secretariat highlighted the state government’s commitment to addressing the concerns of religious minorities. Chief Minister Stalin separately consulted with leaders from the Christian church and Muslim communities, unveiling various welfare schemes for minorities during the event. Notable announcements include the permanency of the certificate for minority educational institutions, relaxed procedures for NGOs in terms of registration and subsidy, and the elimination of the renewal requirement for minority educational institutions’ licenses every five years”.
He questioned the alleged preferential treatment towards minorities in land acquisition for Christian burial grounds and Muslim graves. The government also plans to ease rules for re-burying bodies in cemeteries and introduced guidelines for family burials. He said “The Chief Minister, who claims to practice secular politics, cares little about Hindu crematoriums being neglected. Many crematoriums/burial grounds lack basic facilities….Hindus are still alive and denied their rights. Even after death their rights are taken away. Like Hindu temples, Hindu crematoriums are falling into the clutches of the government and are being looted. Modern toilets are being demolished and constructed at the Hindu crematorium site in all the corporation areas including Chennai, Coimbatore, Tirupur, Salem. Similarly, if a Hindu body is buried, it takes a lot of effort to get a death certificate even after providing various documents. Does the Chief Minister not know that the majority of Hindus are being oppressed like this?“, he said adding that many agricultural lands of Hindus have been converted into graveyards”
The announcements are seen by some as a strategic move to secure minority votes and compete with rival political parties, particularly the AIADMK. Both parties are vying for the favour of minority communities, showcasing themselves as champions of their causes.
Kadeswara Subrmaniam said “The DMK and AIADMK are no different when it comes to minority appeasement. They vie with each other and portray themselves as protectors of minorities. During the AIADMK rule many cases were filed against the Islamist outfit called SDPI. But now Edappadi Palaniswami is attending SDPI’s state conference. On the second day of his attendance, Chief Minister Stalin is holding a meeting for the welfare of minorities. Edappadi Palaniswami attended the Christmas function at Karumathampatti. Keeping all this in mind, the Chief Minister urgently announces concessions to educational institutions and graveyards for the minorities so that they do not go to the AIADMK side. The Dravidian model government that spends its brains and money on minorities places of worship, graveyards, graveyards in educational institutions should also worry a little about the majority Hindu society.“
சிறுபான்மை தாஜா அரசியல் தான் திராவிட மாடலா? மாவட்ட தலைநகரங்களில் கிறிஸ்தவ, முஸ்லீம்களுக்கு பிணம் புதைக்க இடம் – இந்துக்களை புறக்கணிக்கும் திமுக – மாநிலத் தலைவர் காடேஸ்வரா சுப்பிரமணியம் அவர்கள் அறிக்கை…#தாஜாஅரசியல்#சிறுபான்மை#புதைக்கும்இடம் https://t.co/UBr9o3CJ1C
— Hindu Munnani (@hindumunnani_tn) January 11, 2024
The minority institutions which give preference in admission to students from their religion and enjoys financial support, freedom to recruit teaching and non teaching staff and host of benefits. Generally Christian run convents charge exorbitant fees. But the Hindu majority schools, which pool their resources run the schools without any such benefits and even a small error will cost them severely. It will act upon the complaints against Hindu run schools promptly without any delay. It is crystal clear that the Dravidian parties try hard to retain minority vote bank intact deceiving the Hindus whose votes are indispensable for them to win.
The government’s commitment to extending welfare measures for minorities remains a contentious topic, with critics questioning the prioritisation of such initiatives given the state’s fiscal constraints. Despite the criticism, Stalin aims to consolidate minority support ahead of the upcoming elections through these targeted measures.