A section of Brahmins in Tamil Nadu is pushing for reservation in government jobs and educational institutes, giving a new dimension to the politics playing out in the run up to next month’s state elections.
The claim, by some leaders of BJP and Anthanar Munnetra Kazhagam (AMK) – a political party floated by Brahmins who say they have enlisted 15,000 people across the state – contradicts existing caste dynamics in the country where millions of lower caste community members have suffered at the hands of upper caste ones such as Brahmins.
“It is a curse being born a Brahmin in Tamil Nadu,” S Ve Shekhar, former MLA from Mylapore, which is a Brahmin dominated constituency said.
“Brahmins constitute less than 4% of the state’s population, which is why they are neglected. Only a few of them are able to acquire education and migrate out of Tamil Nadu to lead a prosperous life,” the BJP leader added.
Shekhar said members of the community will continue to suffer unless an individual’s economic status was made the only yardstick for reservation.
“It is absolutely wrong to punish the grandson or the great grandson of a Brahmin for the sins, if any, committed by his ancestors. This goes against the grain of justice and constitution,” he said.
At its convention in Chennai, AMK demanded 3% reservations for Brahmins in government jobs and educational institutes.
“We also demand protection from harassment and ridicule that Brahmins are often subjected to especially in Tamil movies,” AMK president S Jayaprakash Iyer said.
The AMK has prepared a charter of demands and is seeking government intervention in protecting Brahminical traditions and culture.
Apart from reservation, the party has also demanded a minimum salary of `1000 per month for all the priests and sivarchakas working in temples and the creation of a temple welfare board to look after the interests of temple employees.
Iyer, however, said it was unlikely that any other political party would rally for their cause. “We are sure we will not get the support of the Dravidian parties, which had attacked the Brahminical culture in the past. What is surprising is that even the BJP has sought to play safe and has not responded, so far,” he said.