Echoing the “anti-Hindu” stance integral to Bharat, or the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, Tamil Nadu’s Thol Thirumavalavan was one of the most vocal as he charted the direction of the newly formed unit of opposition parties for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Told about
‘Thiruma’, as his supporters know him, is the president of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) – a party that secured 1 per cent vote share in the 2021 assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, a state with around 18 to 20 per cent vote share. Scheduled Caste population.
Chennai-based political analyst Sumanth C Raman said the VCK’s contribution to Dalit representation in India is negligible, as Congress national president Mallikarjun Kharge is already seen as the face of the community. The party is being seen only as an “ally” of the DMK.
“There are also attempts by some groups in the DMK to remove him from the post, as many middle castes do not vote for the DMK because of the alliance with the VCK. The Vanniyar lobby in the DMK is unhappy with Thirumavalavan and some leaders are under pressure to align with the PMK (Pattali Makkal Katchi). But (MK) Stalin has a soft corner for him as he has stood by the DMK in all its bad times. They are intertwined and the VCK is used to saying things that the DMK cannot say openly,” Raman said.
While the DMK has taken a relatively moderate approach towards Hindu majoritarian politics, Thirumavalavan and the VCK have taken a more aggressive and outspoken stand in countering this, calling themselves “anti-Hindu” and “anti-BJP”.
Rejected father’s ‘Hindu-tainted’ name
It is a rare occurrence when a son changes his father’s name to suit his ideology. Thirumavalavan did this to his father, whose birth name was Ramasamy. Rejecting all Hindu-tainted names at the VCK convention, in line with his Ambedkarite and Dravidian philosophy, he decided to name his father Tholkappiyar after the writer. tholkappiyamThe oldest extant book on Tamil literature.
The VCK chief uses the abbreviation ‘Thol’ before his name to make statements. Thirumavalavan has been founded against the growing oppression of Dalits and middle castes, with the dominant Brahmin population being the oppressors. He and his party have projected themselves as the face of “anti-Hindu politics” in Tamil Nadu and now, as a platform against the BJP-RSS. However, it is to be noted that he once allied with the AIADMK after J Jayalalithaa walked out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Thirumavalavan, who holds a doctorate degree, has been at loggerheads with the BJP and Hindutva organizations saying he was imposing ‘Sanathan Dharma’ on people, as well as campaigning against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “VCK and DMK are an alliance based on ideology. He is one of our staunchest and strongest allies. We have been opposing the ideology of BJP even before 2019. This alliance is based on that and will continue; His ideology exactly matches with our ideology. Whoever is anti-BJP in his ideology and supports the ideology of our party is with us. News18,
Recent developments are ‘anti-Hindu’
A video clip of Thirumavalavan’s speech demanding 100 per cent voting by Muslims and Christians in the 2024 elections went viral recently. In his speech, he argued that both communities were in “danger”. In the clip, he is heard saying that the BJP government is moving to incorporate “Sanatana Dharma, Varnashrama Dharma and Manu Dharma” into its new system of governance, while urging “Muslims and Christians, including those living outside Tamil Nadu or India, to return in time.” Vote for the Lok Sabha elections and to remove Modi from power.”
“The staunch anti-Hindu stance of Thirumavalavan is a recent development. This has emerged since the rise of Modi and the aggressive attempt by Hindutva forces to gain a foothold in Tamil Nadu,” said KN Arun, a political analyst in Chennai.
Annadurai called Thirumavalavan a “man of purpose”. “His thoughts are clear; He has a definite point of view towards things and is never afraid to express his views and is an influential leader in Tamil Nadu. His speeches are widely followed across the state, and he leaves a mark on the hearts and minds of the people,” said the DMK spokesperson.
At a meeting in Trichy, the VCK president urged Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin to bring “anti-BJP forces” under one banner. “The number of anti-BJP forces across the country is high, but there is a need to bring them on a single platform. We urge CM Stalin to tour across the country and unite the anti-BJP forces,” he had said.
A journey into political alliances
Known for his fiery and fiery speeches, Thirumavalavan enjoys the support of a section of the Dalit community in northern Tamil Nadu. “His contribution in terms of numbers may not be much to the new opposition alliance as his influence is limited only to northern areas of Tamil Nadu. In the 2024 elections, DMK has the potential to ensure that India gets at least 30 seats from Tamil Nadu. In that, the VCK can play a significant role in at least five constituencies in the northern part of the state, where it has a Dalit base. In marginal constituencies, he can make a big difference,” said Arun.
Born on August 17, 1962, in Ariyalur village in Perambalur district of Tamil Nadu, Thirumavalavan entered politics at the age of 18. Under the guidance of M Malalchamy of the Dalit Panthers Iyakkam (DPI), he took over as its chief in 1989.
DPI was later renamed VCK and working on the ideology that launching itself politically was not on the agenda, the party later decided to cooperate with K Moopanar, who in 1999 formed the Tamil Manila Congress. To begin with had left the Congress. When Jayalalithaa left the Congress to form the NDA, the DMK moved towards it and the TMC refused to join her; Hence, the alliance broke down when the alliance with the BJP broke down.
In this election, TMC tried to become independent and brought Thirumavalavan into mainstream politics by taking his party, then known as DPI, as an ally. It was the first time that the VCK leader, who had been marginalized till now, was mentioned. He was later elected to the state legislative assembly for the first time in 2001.
In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, Thirumavalavan contested from the Chidambaram seat on a JD(U) alliance ticket and won by a very narrow margin. A few years later, the VCK allied with the AIADMK and captured two assembly seats – Chengam (SC) and Harur.
He formed another alliance with DMK in 2009 and became the MP from Chidambaram. He decided to maintain his autonomy and refused to use the DMK’s election symbol ‘Rising Sun’. He wanted to set a new precedent in the political scene of the state and won with the symbol of ‘pot’ imposed by the Election Commission of India.
A decade later in 2019, as part of the DMK-led Social Progressive Alliance, Thirumavalavan won a notable victory by reclaiming the Chidambaram seat and was elected as an MP. The VCK won two seats in that election. Currently, the party has four MLAs in the state assembly and two MPs in the Lok Sabha, in alliance with the DMK.
VCK has also enhanced its image to present itself at the national level. As pointed out by political experts, it has spread its wings to Telangana, Karnataka and Kerala to establish a more national presence. Although the party is primarily confined to Tamil voters in these states, it has also tried to reach out to the Tamil-speaking community in states such as Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
Throughout its journey, VCK has been actively a part of many protests – from advocating for Dalit rights and demanding reservations to opposing the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) or the highly emotional issue of advocating for Tamil Nadu’s share in the Kaveri. River water.
During his public addresses, Thirumavalavan often reiterates that he has not only married into the society, but has also made it his life’s mission to fight Brahminical influence and discrimination against Dalits. He has actively protested against the ideology supported by Manusmriti (Laws of Manu) and has been seen distributing Tamil translations of these pamphlets to “expose and sensitize people” of its casteist outlook.
“Thirumavalavan is an anti-Hindu personality from day one as he has been attacking Sanatana Dharma. He is trying to mislead the public about Manusmriti. They claim that it is a book written by Hindutva saints. In fact, I challenged them that the book they burnt was written by Sir William Jones, an Englishman, and Wendy Doniger, an American. VCK’s Ravikumar and Thirumavalavan also accepted it,” said BJP spokesperson Tirupati Narayanan, stressing that the leader’s attempt was only to fool the public for political purposes.
“Is untouchability only in Hinduism? He was in Delhi where he protested against the church against untouchability, so why target only Hinduism and Tamil Nadu? He is using his caste to support his party,” said Narayanan.
Narayanan further said that the VCK leader has now aligned with the Congress when it is convenient for him. He had earlier vowed not to side with the party which has allegedly killed over 1.5 lakh Sri Lankan Tamils. The BJP leader said, he is an opportunist.