Tirunelveli: Caste consolidation is all set to likely play a crucial role in the October 21 Nanguneri Assembly byelection, as unlike the previous elections, major caste groups are planning to field their own candidates.
Nanguneri assembly constituency, predominantly a Nadar bastion, as the community constitutes around 32 per cent of the total electorates in the constituency that has 19 per cent of Dalits followed by the Thevar and the Yadava communities, the major political parties never thought of fielding candidates other than the Nadars. The CPI is the only party that broke this caste myth and fielded a non-Nadar candidate in this constituency in the 1996 general election and made him win with the support of the DMK and the then G.K. Moopanar-headed TMC.
This by-election for Nanguneri however is perceived to be a good chance to establish their strength for the other three major communities — the Dalits, Thevars and the Yadavas.
The Thevar community, however, had adopted this strategy during the 2016 general election by backing Suresh alias Kasivendan, who polled a sizeable number of the community votes that would otherwise have gone in favour of the AIADMK, against H Vasantha Kumar of the Congress. But it did not work then.
The Yadavas, who constitute 12 per cent of the total electorates of 2,56,414 at Nanguneri decided to field their own candidate in this by-election, according to Mariasundaram Yadav, who had convened a consultation meeting of the all Yadava association at Tirunelveli on Saturday to decide their candidate for Nanguneri by-poll. “We have been forced to take this decision as none of the political parties take our demands--especially to declare the Yadava community as most backward community, seriously, said Mariasundaram Yadav.
The Dalit community, especially the seven sub-castes--the Pallar, Kudumbar, Pannadi, Kaalaadi, Kadayar, Devendrakulatar and Vadhiriyaar too came out in public against the major parties and gave a call to its people to exhibit their solidarity by boycotting the Nanguneri by-election. The Dalits have made such an announcement so as to show their protest against the silence of the ruling and the opposition parties over clubbing the seven sub-castes into a single fold as Devendrakula Vellalars. They too hoisted black flags in around 20 villages in the Nanguneri assembly constituency.
Hari Nadar of the 'Panankattu Padai', a political outfit recently launched, has also filed his nomination with the aim of splitting the Nadar votes. “This election is a testing ground for us to find out our popularity among the Nadars,” said an office-bearer of the newly formed party.
Apart from caste, religion too will have a major role to play in the Nanguneri by-election, as according to Kamaraj, the deputy president of the OBC wing of the Congress, “Being a Catholic Nadar, Ruby Manoharan has to put extra effort to win over the hearts of the protestant Christians, who constitute about eight per cent of the total number of eligible voters in the constituency,” he said.
Further comparing the Congress candidate from outside the constituency with the AIADMK candidate, “Reddiyarpatti” V Narayanan, the AIADMK has an edge as Narayanan is the “son of the soil”, said Jenni of the AIADMK advocates' wing in Tirunelveli town....