Chennai: Dalits filing nominations for unreserved seats in large numbers is a new perceptible trend in the elections to the rural local bodies, to be held on Oct 6 and 9, pointing to a positive evolution of grassroots democracy in the State.
According to social activists, though a few Dalits had contested for village panchayat presidents and ward members posts in the past and even won, the number of candidates from the Scheduled Caste communities aspiring to win in general constituencies now is unprecedented.
Though the exact numbers could not be obtained from all over the State, the situation seemed to be the same when it comes to the posts of village panchayat president and village panchayat ward member, both contested without party affiliation and symbols.
Since political parties have a tendency to field candidates of the dominant caste in the particular constituency, they rarely choose Dalits for unreserved constituencies. But at the grassroots level, the apparent rise in political awareness has led to Dalits wishing to become village panchayat presidents and ward members even if those seats are not reserved for them.
To give a sampling of the situation at the rural electoral arena, for the 73 village panchayat presidents’ posts in Uthrimerur Union of Kanchipuram district, more than 20 nominations have been filed by members of the SC community for unreserved seats.
In Thirumukaivoonal village, members of other communities are canvassing for a Dalit contesting for the panchayat president’s post, which falls under the unreserved category, say some local activists, who point out that in the last local body polls it was Dalit who won the seat.
Manoor panchayat union has 43 village panchayats and 40 of them have Dalit aspirants contesting for the president’s post. There too about 20 panchayats were won by Dalits last time.
For the Paruthipadu union ward member post in Nanguneri Union, three Dalits have filed nominations and for the Paruthipadu village panchayat president post, too, a Dalit is contesting though both the seats are unreserved.
Chermandevi Union has six Dalits in the race for village panchayat presidents and in Sankarankovil, Kurivikulam and Melanelithanallur unions of Tirunelveli district 16 Dalits are contesting in the total 29 general seats for panchayat presidents....