Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) cadre protested across Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on Monday, June 8 demanding reservations for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in the central pool of medical seats. The VCK president and member of parliament (MP) Thol. Thirumavalavan and another party MP Ravikumar D participated in the protest held near VCK office in Puducherry.
VCK, the anti-caste Tamil nationalist party, became the first political party in the state to organise widespread protests for this issue despite the coronavirus pandemic. Thirumavalavan had given a call for protests on June 5 demanding OBC reservations in medical admissions, reservations in the private sector and discontinuation of privatisation of public sector units.
Thirumavalavan asked the Government of Puducherry to pass a resolution in the assembly demanding OBC reservation in the medical seats. Talking to the press, he said, “VCK is organising protests across Tamil Nadu and Puducherry demanding drafting of a law ensuring OBC reservations. We have also been spreading awareness regarding this all over the country using the hashtag #VCKforOBCquota.”
Thirumavalan demanded that the central government shelve plans to privatise public sector units. He also asked for implementing reservations in the private sector.
The VCK deputy general secretary Vanni Arasu and writer Gowthama Sannah participated in the protest held in Chennai, while VCK cadre organised protests in districts such as Thenkasi, Mayiladuthurai, Coimbatore and Theni. At least 40 demonstrations were held at different places in the Theni district. Thousands of protesters were detained across the state and released later.
In a Facebook post after the protests, Sannah called upon people belonging to OBCs and Most Backward Classes (MBCs) to discard leaders who don’t speak on this issue, who use fake pride about the past to their advantage, and keep people distracted from the real issues. He also appealed to OBCs and MBCs to reject the fake premises manufactured by these leaders that reservation is an issue of Dalits alone.
OBCs are denied reservations in the central pool of medical seats called the All India Quota (AIQ) for diploma, MBBS, BDS and postgraduate courses. Every year, 490 MBBS seats and 879 postgraduate seats are surrendered to the AIQ from Tamil Nadu. The Medical Counselling Committee, the central government authority responsible for allotment of seats, should allot 369, that is, 27% of them for the OBCs. But this dictate is not followed. Tamil Nadu has 50% reservation for the backward classes, which they would have been able to benefit from if the state did not have to surrender seats to the AIQ.
The current Tamil Nadu government ruled by All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) has recently moved the Supreme Court on this issue, following Communist Party of India (Marxist) and other state parties. VCK has been continuously demanding these reservations for a while now.
In June 2019, the party leaders met central health minister Harsh Vardhan and gave a letter regarding this. However, central government did not act on the issue. Earlier that year, the central government had moved fast to introduce reservations for the forward classes under the category of economically weaker sections, strategically excluding oppressed communities from it.
In 2019, it was proposed that Tamil Nadu’s famous Anna University would get the status of ‘institute of eminence’. State government set up a five-minister committee to consider the process and seek explanation from the central government whether the 69% reservation that exists in the state, would continue.
Thirumavalavan has demanded that the central government should introduce reservations in all institutions of eminence across the country as these institutions, which include four IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology), Indian Institute of Science, University of Delhi, University of Hyderabad, and Banaras Hindu University, are currently exempted from this policy.