Tamil Nadu - Madurai
"Dalit parties fail to represent Dalit cause"
Major political parties are deviating from highlighting issues
MADURAI: Dalit movements and major political parties in the State are
deviating from highlighting the issues affecting Dalits and have
largely failed to represent them on many major issues in the recent
past, said Dalit Gnanasekaran, founder, Dalit Liberation Movement.
Delivering a special address on a discussion titled 'Remembering Poona
Pact,' and a book release event at Tamil Nadu Theological Seminary on
Friday; he talked about his experiences as a Dalit activist in Madurai
and southern districts during the mid 80's and early 90's before
relocating himself to the northern districts.
In his speech he talked about his experiences working among the Dalits
during the 1989 Uthapuram riots where they organised close to 46
walkathons and protests demanding justice for Dalits.
He reminded how much difficult it was during those days to create an
awareness and he cited one incident during the late Chief Minister
M.G. Ramachandran's period who introduced a scheme and provided 'free
chappals' to poor and how many Dalits in the rural villages got those
chappals but were never able wear them.
However, after many protests in a lot of villages the Dalits finally
were able to wear chappals provided by the State. Earlier in the
event, he released a book titled 'Poarali Enum Adhikaaram' which talks
about arguments and debates on Uthapuram Wall Issue from a Dalit
One of the essayists, Stalin Rajangam in his speech talked about the
dearth of substantial works in Tamil on Poona Pact and stated that
Dalits of Madras Presidency were actively involved during the colonial
period (prior to Round Table Conference) by making major interventions
through sending telegrams and letters to the British Government on the
status of the depressed classes in the country demanding adequate
The first major work on Poona Pact was published by Ambedkar Study
Circle in Chennai in the year 1965; the book was authored by Anbu
Ponoviyam and in the early 90's Dalit writer Ravikumar came out with a
work highlighting the need for separate electorates.
J.Balasubramanian of Dalit Intellectual Circle said that Poona Pact
remains as an important event in the history of Dalit movements as it
was the first major event where Gandhi's status as leader of the
masses and Mahatma came into question.
Jaganathan said that the Dalit parties have become non-functional,
many Dalits were murdered recently in the southern districts and Dalit
officials targeted but no major Dalit party organised protests or
The Second Round Table Conference in 1931 saw Dr. Ambedkar emphasising
the need for political power and Gandhi insisting upon protective
measures as it would divide the Hindus.
The conference ended with the then British Prime Minister Ramsey
McDonald announcing the Communal Award on 17th August 1932.
The depressed classes were granted separate seats in the Provincial
Assemblies and the right of double vote under which they were to elect
their own representatives and to vote also in the general
This arrangement was to be for 20 years. However, on September 20,
1932, Gandhi undertook a fast unto death in protest. The Poona Pact
was signed by Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, the principal signatory on
behalf of the caste-Hindus and Ambedkar on behalf of the depressed
classes on 24 September 1932.
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