Leaders of all political parties are on a political pilgrimage of sorts today to Pasumpon village, nearly 600 km from Chennai, to pay tributes at the memorial of Muthuramalinga Thevar, the Thevar community’s icon, freedom fighter and spiritual leader, on his 116th birth anniversary.
A dominant community that could influence the outcome of nine Lok Sabha seats in nine southern districts of Tamil Nadu, political parties are trying to win over the community ahead of the big 2024 polls.
Traditionally known to be supporters of the AIADMK, the dynamics changed after the AIADMK’s Edapadi Palaniswami government brought about a 10.5% internal reservation for the Vanniyar community within the most backward classes quota.
This quota to help the Vanniars, dominant in the northern part of Tamil Nadu, had upset the Thevars, leading to anger and disappointment against the AIADMK.
In the 2021 assembly polls, the AIADMK had suffered a setback in these regions as the DMK swept to power. With former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, expelled from the AIADMK there is further division, and other parties, including the ruling DMK, aim to get them into their fold.
Paying tributes at Pasumpon, along with many of his cabinet colleagues, Chief Minister and DMK Chief MK Stalin recollected the measures taken by DMK governments over the years to honour Muthuramalinga Thevar and his legacy.
“Annadurai and Karunanidhi had come here when Muthuramalinga Thevar passed away. In 2007 Karunanidhi had commemorated the birth Centenary of Muthuramalinga Thevar,” said Chief Minister MK Stalin.
For the AIADMK that suffered defeats in the 2019 and 2021 polls, the thevar community’s support is crucial to reclaim its political fortunes.
The BJP that has negligible presence in the state had deployed Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and its state chief Annamalai. The saffron party has been left in the lurch in the state with AIADMK snapping ties with the national party.