The ruling DMK is for a caste-based census in Tamil Nadu to fulfil the long-standing demand of various communities in the state.
The Tamil Nadu government has in a policy note said that the government was committed to implementing and protecting the 69 per cent quota in educational institutions as also for the appointments in government service in the state. Chief Minister M.K. Stalin has already demanded a caste-wise census.
The Opposition AIADMK had in its previous tenure set up a commission for collection of quantifiable data on castes, communities and tribes and had appointed a retired Judge of the Madras High court, Justice A. Kulasekharan as the chairman of the commission. The commission was constituted following the vociferous demand of the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), an ally of the AIADMK.
The DMK government is also not averse to a caste based census and the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and father of M.K. Stalin, late M. Karunanidhi had categorically stated that a caste based census was necessary for social justice.
He had recommended to the Central government that it should itself carry out a caste based census as it was desired by all those who were concerned about social justice.
DMK deputy secretary and Member of Parliament, Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, who is the daughter of M. Karunanidhi and sister of M.K. Stalin, has also demanded a caste based census and said that people cannot wait for another decade to know about caste based compositions.
She had said that without statistics no difference could be made in society. The DMK has pushed for a caste based census over the years as it feels that the welfare of the marginalised communities is linked to the caste based report.
The DMK and other political parties demand a caste based census so that they can justify the reservations provided to various communities. The DMK and its leaders including Kanimozhi are batting for this census due to the fear that the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) of the powerful Vanniyar community will steal the limelight on the issue.
The Central government had informed the Supreme Court in 2021 that a caste-based census was not feasible. The DMK and the AIADMK are supportive of a caste-based census but except for speaking in seminars and occasional statements from the Chief Minister and other leaders, the issue has not been raised vociferously.
The DMK is of the opinion that if the actual number of Other Backward Classes (OBC) is known then the party would be able to break the reservation cap of 50 percent fixed by the Supreme Court.
A senior leader of the DMK who did not want to be named while speaking to IANS said, “When the actual number of OBCs is known, then we can move the Supreme Court to increase the percentage of reservation.”
Even as the DMK is batting for a caste census, the party did not restore the services of the A. Kulasekharan commission appointed by the AIADMK government. Party leaders said that the state government cannot conduct a caste census and that it should be held along with the general census.
The DMK had in its election manifesto for the 2021 assembly elections stated that it would urge the Central government to conduct a caste census for the entire population.
The party has also said that it would push for 27 per cent reservation to the backward community in admissions to the IITs and other educational institutions as well as in the appointment of teachers.
DMK leaders in public and in Parliament push for a caste-based census, but the party has not been pushing this as an agenda and has been lukewarm in demanding it during the census to be carried out by the Government of India.