Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Caste politics: Dalits resign after oath

Madurai: Peculiar caste politics prompts Dalits elected to some Panchayats in Madurai to put down their papers immediately after taking oath to satisfy the dominant backward class Thevar community.

Elections to three Panchayats -- Pappapatti, Keeripatti and Nattarmangalam -- could not be held since 1996 due to deep-rooted caste sentiments in this communally-sensitive district.

All the three seats had been reserved for Dalits, evoking vehement protests from the Thevar community forming a majority in these areas.

Last year, the Government undertook the Herculean task of conducting elections to these seats by even using ''coercive'' methods, only to find that the winners, all puppet candidates fielded by caste Hindus, put in their papers immediately.

This year, the authorities managed to find a ''willing'' candidate to contest the election for Pappapatti Panchayat union, forcing the Thevar community to field their own puppet candidate.

As expected, K Azhagar, the candidate of the caste Hindus was elected with a thumping majority in the October 9 byelection at Pappapatti village. He took the oath at the Chellampatti panchayat union office in the morning and put in his papers within minutes.

When the official refused to accept his resignation, Azhagar posted it to the District Collector, thus bringing the situation back to square one.

The by-election was necessitated following the resignation of the previous President who quit office after taking the oath last year.

However, elections could not be held in other two Dalits seats as no one came forward to file their nominations.

Source: Sify news, October 21, 2003

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