South parties smile: Been there, done it
Manoj C G Posted online: Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010 at 0030 hrs
New Delhi : In sharp contrast to the opposition to the Women's
Reservation Bill by satraps of the Hindi heartland, major political
parties from South India — whether it is arch rivals AIADMK and DMK in
Tamil Nadu or the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh and even
the Muslim League in Kerala — have happily supported the legislation.
This despite the fact that almost all of them are in favour of an OBC
and Dalit sub-quota in the 33 per cent reservation. The competitive
politics in their home states have left them with little option but to
support the legislation now and campaign for inclusion of the quota
It is no secret that successive governments in Tamil Nadu have played
the women card to the hilt. Whether it is the DMK's decision to give
equal rights to women in ancestral properties or providing 30 per cent
quota for them in government jobs or the all-women police stations and
the cradle baby scheme to prevent female infanticide introduced by the
AIAMDK, the competition was much visible.
Adding to the fact is that both the Dravidian parties were not worried
like their counterparts in Bihar or Uttar Pradesh — where almost all
the parties are against the Bill — about upper caste politicians
cornering the seats allocated to women.
The backward and most backward classes constitute over 65 per cent of
the population in Tamil Nadu, and even now majority of the cadre base
of both these parties as well as their MPs and MLAs belong to the
backward classes. Both AIADMK and DMK have made it clear that they
want OBC sub-quota but would prefer the Bill to see the light of day
"There is a historical perspective to the support for the Bill in
Tamil Nadu. As early as in 1929, Periyar had talked of providing equal
rights to women in ancestral properties," DMK MP T K S Elangovan said.
Since Tamil Nadu has provided 33 per cent quota for women in local
bodies over a decade ago, AIAMDK and DMK are not much worried about
finding suitable women candidates. "We want the Bill to be passed
first. Demands including sub-quota can be looked into later," AIADMK's
V Maitreyan said.
The situation is similar in Andhra Pradesh. In fact, it was TDP
founder N T Rama Rao who, for the first time in the country, brought
in nine per cent reservation for women in local bodies. The successive
TDP and Congress governments also vied with each other to announce
schemes for women.
Even during the Assembly elections last year, while the late chief
minister, Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, announced Abhay Hastam, a monthly
pension scheme for women members of self help groups who have crossed
the age of 60, TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu promised to pay cash to
female members of all the families. But TDP leaders admit that the
party till some time ago was echoing the SP's demand for sub-quota for
OBCs and Dalits.
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