Chennai: Caste intricacies has tied up the elections in Tamil Nadu in several knots because of a cluttered four-cornered contest throwing up new factors.
The four corners in the poll contest are represented by AIADMK-led National Democratic Alliance – comprising BJP, Pattali Makkal Katchi, Vijaykanth’s Desiya Murpokku Dravid Kazhagham and three others; the DMK-Congress alliance (also including Vaiko’s MDMK, Muslim League and the Left); besides debutant Kamal Hassan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam and the AIADMK’s breakaway faction led by TTV Dinakaran.
The caste and community voting pattern of the 2014 elections, swept by AIADMK which won 37 out of 39 Lok Sabha seats (with a vote share of 44%), show that the party got 50% Thevar and 60% of Uadayar votes, according to a CSDS study.
It also got 40% of Vanniyar, 44% Mudliyar, 49% other OBCs and 42% of Muslim votes. The party benefitted from the consolidation of OBC votes in its favour. The DMK on the other hand got maximum support — 47% — from Upper Caste followed by Mudaliyar (34%) and Muslims (31%).
The BJP, which won the sole seat of Kanniyakumari from where Pon Radhakrishnan secured a win by over 1.26 lakh votes, got maximum support from Thevars and Udayar (35%% each) and Vanniyar (40%) communities apart from Christian fishermen and Nadar caste. The key differences this year is that the two national parties BJP and the Congress have aligned with regional powerhouses AIADMK and DMK and the emergence of new factors in the form of Dinakaran and Kamal Hassan.
By making an impressive entry in the RK Nagar bypolls, Dinakaran’s fight for late Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha’s legacy makes him the “man to watch” in 2019 and could may well re-cast the caste lines. According to 2011 census, Tamil Nadu with a population of 7.21 crore, had 20.1% of it as Scheduled Castes. It has the second largest percentage of SC with 32%, second to Puanjab which has 39.8%.
The total electorate in the state is 5.86 crore. 18% of its population is Dalit, one of the highest in the country, while seven Lok Sabha seats are reserved. Among the larger states, Tamil Nadu also has one of the highest literacy rate (73.3%) of SC population.
There are only four districts in Tamil Nadu — Thiruvarur, the Nilgiirs, Nagapattinam and Perambalu — where the SC population is less than 30-40% while in another two — Viluppuram and Cuddalore, the SC population is less than 25-30%. Thevar, consisting of sub sects like Kallars, Maravars and Agamudiayars, is one of the key communities in the state commanding significant political influence particularly in south Tamil Nadu.
The AIADMK has got the full support of the community but fissures have appeared after the death of Jayalalitha and may lead to a split in Thevar votes. There are seven reserved constituencies (SC) in Tamil Nadu which include Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram, Viluppuram, Nilgiris, Chidambaram, Nagapattinam and Tenkasi.