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The BJP has been trying to corner the ruling DMK’s territory of Tamil identity politics by demanding medical and engineering education in Tamil medium, and conducting cultural activities such as the Kasi Tamil Sangamam. But the party is now faced with a litmus test. Chief Minister MK Stalin has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure that jobs are provided for Tamils in Central government offices and PSUs in Tamil Nadu.

Unable to make notable gains in the state through its usual Hindutva politics, the BJP recently made Tamil identity its political platform. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has glorified Tamil as the oldest language, and even quoted from the Thirukkural on some occasions. The BJP also held the Kasi Tamil Sangamam in a bid to showcase the relationship between Tamil Nadu and Kasi and introduce Tamil culture to the people of Uttar Pradesh.

Last week during the convocation of MGR Medical University, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Seetharaman demanded that medical education and all allied health courses such as nursing be taught in Tamil. This is not the first time BJP leaders are speaking about Tamil medium in education. Union Home Minister Amit Shah during his visit to Tamil Nadu had requested the Chief Minister to introduce Tamil medium in engineering and medical courses in the state.

Higher Education Minister K Ponmudi immediately responded to Amit Shah, pointing out that the DMK government had introduced Tamil as the medium of education in engineering courses 12 years ago and constituted a committee of three professors to introduce MBBS in Tamil. He also requested the BJP government at the Centre to declare Tamil as one of the official languages of the Union government. He also wanted allocation of funds to the development of Tamil to be on par with Sanskrit. However, the BJP has not responded to any of these demands.

Unable to make notable gains in the state through its usual Hindutva politics, the BJP recently made Tamil identity its political platform

DMK leader M K Stalin has again dragged the BJP back to the issue of jobs for Tamils in the union government and PSUs. In a letter to Modi he said, “Citizen-centric administration, the sine qua non of good administration, requires free interface with the public and only persons with familiarity in local language and culture can fulfil the requirements.”

Citing statistics, the Chief Minister said that only 4.5 per cent of staff from south India had been selected through the Staff Selection Commission in the year 2021-22. He also said the number of candidates from Tamil Nadu recruited through the Railway Recruitment Board was also very low.

Also Read: DMK govt torn between ‘jobs for Tamils’, industrial growth

As the Prime Minister and the BJP have professed their love for Tamil, Stalin has demanded that the examinations for recruitment to posts in Tamil Nadu through the Staff Selection Commission, Railway Recruitment Board and Institute of Banking Personnel Selection be conducted in Tamil.

He also demanded that people from Tamil Nadu be given priority during appointment in central government offices and central Public Sector Undertakings in Tamil Nadu, so that they not only communicate well with the public and provide better service delivery, but accurately represent regional interests.

Stalin’s demand follows protests by DMK allies, opposition parties and Tamil nationalist outfits demanding jobs for Tamils in the PSU Neyveli Lignite Corporation and the many big private companies in the state. The Chief Minister’s request also drew criticism from a few Tamil outfits who said the DMK leader had not specified the percentage of jobs he was demanding in Central government and Public Sector Units. They also alleged that Stalin was deflecting the demand to fulfil the DMK’s poll promise of 75 per cent reservation for Tamils in private companies in the state.

Chief Minister M K Stalin said that only 4.5 per cent of staff from south India had been selected through the Staff Selection Commission in the year 2021-22. He also said the number of candidates from Tamil Nadu recruited through the Railway Recruitment Board was also very low

However, DMK functionaries point out that the government could persuade the private companies to recruit a higher number of Tamils when setting up an industry, without making any legislation. They pointed out that the DMK government had held a meeting with the officials of Tata Electronics Company in Hosur following protests by Tamil groups demanding jobs.

Representatives including former AIADMK minister KP Munusamy took part in the meeting in which company officials promised they would employ local people in the next round of recruitment.

Also Read: PMK shifts planks from caste to Tamil nationalism

Though the demand for ‘jobs for Tamils’ began from smaller parties, it has been taken up by the ruling DMK and put in the BJP’s court. The BJP, being a new entrant to Tamil identity politics, is certain to find itself in a sticky wicket on the issue of jobs.

The Tamil parties which are accusing the DMK government will now face the question why they are not agitating against the BJP government which is refusing to provide a certain percentage of jobs for Tamils as demanded. Besides deflecting the agitations, the DMK leader’s demand has put the BJP’s Tamil politics under the scanner.

If the BJP does not respond to the demand, the DMK is likely to portray it as an anti-Tamil party during the 2024 Parliament election campaign.


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