Chennai: The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) has suddenly resurrected its ancient demand of 20 per cent exclusive reservation for Vanniyars, a demand that was put to rest 31 years ago after the Most Backward Classes (MBC) category was created and the community was included in it.
It was on that plank that the Vanniyar Sangam organized a series of protests between 1980 and 1989 in parts of Tamil Nadu where the community has a strong presence. It made Dr S Ramadoss, then a humble physician, into a mass leader.
A massive agitation in 1987, in which highways were blocked by Vanniyar Sangam activists by felling trees across the road, paralysed normal life and left 21 persons dead in police action. It ultimately led to the government agreeing to carve out an MBC quota from within the 50 per cent reservation for Backward Classes (BCs).
The creation of the MBC quota not only rendered irrelevant the demand of Vanniyars for 20 per cent reservation but also prompted Dr Ramadoss to start the PMK which subsequently took part not only in elections but also in governments at the Centre.
But now the PMK is raising the demand again. The demand was the second of 20 resolutions passed at its special general council held through video conference on Sunday. The resolution said that though the MBC quota was created, the Vanniyar community did not get adequate representation in education.
Giving statistics, the resolution said Vanniyar representation in state government services was only 8 per cent though the community formed 25 per cent of the population. In Group I services they had only 2-3 per cent representation, in Group Two 6-8 percent and Group Four 7-9 percent.
Vanniyars have not benefited from reservation for the MBCs, the resolution said, adding that if the trend continued the community would only go backwards. To rectify such a slide, 20 percent exclusive reservation for them was the only answer, it said and called upon the government to bring in a special law to provide for the special quota.
By reviving an old demand now, the PMK might be trying to mobilize Vanniyar youth under its banner. However, it is not clear as to how such a demand would go own with the major political parties with which the PMK might try to forge electoral alliances.