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‘Caste organizations should not exist in Tamil Nadu’ – Dr K Veeramani, President, Dravida Kazhagam

‘Caste organizations should not exist in Tamil Nadu’ – Dr K Veeramani, President, Dravida Kazhagam

Radhika Sudhakar

This is a transcript of the Round Table India’s interview with Dr K Veeramani, President, Dravida Kazhagam.

Q: You have had a long association with Periyar, what do you admire in him the most?

K Veeramani: Apart from his exemplary leadership qualities, as his lifelong disciple, I have had a lot of moments that tell me more about him. What I see as his unique quality, rarely found in many other leaders is that you can differ and argue with him. Many may find this quality novel.

When I took over as editor in 1962, Periyar told me that if I felt there were queries or that something was unnecessary, I had the full right to withhold or remove anything that I deemed unnecessary. For a person of his stature who was running a movement that was swimming against the tide, it is not easy to grant such a license. Though we both were on the same ideological plank, he felt it necessary to state this.

To take an example, in those days, his speeches arrived from elsewhere, written either by his friends or his secretary like Mr Imayavarmaban. I was over 40 years his junior, about 59 years apart. For some reason, he had chosen to have confidence over me and I had occasions only to use the license he gave rarely, about two or three times at most.

Periyar will never forgive people from the movement for making mistakes. It was Periyar’s policy that those in the movement should not participate in any election, including for local body positions. In an election to the City Corporation, a few members contested and lost the deposit. After the result, they sought to justify themselves saying that they tried to reach Periyar for permission but he was unavailable and that standing as an independent was not barred. I called them and said that they were mistaken and that was not the policy of the party. In that election, there were no instructions even for those in the movement on supporting or opposing someone. It was in his mind that people from various movements should win.

When the results came, Periyar gave a statement that those who stood for elections were removed from the movement. However, I did not publish it because I felt that Periyar had written the statement in haste when he was angry. It is human nature to take decisions in a hurry when in anger. If taken after a day or two, the same decision would have taken into account various aspects and would be well thought out. Publishing his statement immediately would have denied him an opportunity to go over it in a calmer phase of mind. When Periyar called over the telephone to speak about other issues, I raised the matter of his statement and said that I had not published it to give it another thought. In those days he had to call from Trichy. I said that this person was already suffering, having lost the election. They made a mistake and their present condition is that they are in a situation to realize their folly. I apologized for not carrying it immediately and said I would publish it if he still felt the same. He gave it a thought and then told me not to carry it if I felt so.

In public life, he was also one to praise quickly if something was exemplary or a speech or writing was outstanding. At the same time, he also refused to take quick action even if he got to hear information about someone that was unpalatable. He prefers to wait calmly while all around him people may be furious and want to seek an explanation from the said person. Even while people around accuse Periyar of letting someone say what he wants and get away with it without being reined in, he will not get provoked. As the saying goes in English, we should give a long rope, Periyar would say. This is something he applied to all, whether it was those who were with him in his public life, or even to those who left him.

What would you consider your most significant moments in your sixty years of journalism and eighty years of Viduthalai newspaper?

K Veeramani: This is the 88th year of Viduthalai. Viduthalai is not merely a daily newspaper, but an ideological journal. Periyar was very particular that Viduthalai should not be run as a commercial newspaper. He was particular about that and mentioned it at the newspaper’s launch itself. So, there were many challenges. One of that would be the emergency period. It was one of the hardest times and happened after Periyar’s demise. Several members including me were imprisoned under MISA and Maniyammai (Periyar’s wife) despite her ailing health and poor heart condition, which kept her outside prison, looked after the newspaper. Poet Kali Poongkundran, our deputy editor now, who was a government employee then, bravely stood by Maniyammai, putting even his job at risk. There were others, too, likewise who came forward in those times and who stood by bravely at that time to support her and the newspaper.

Censorship was the norm during Emergency. Censor officials interfered with the tone and words in the articles in Viduthalai. The officials appointed for censorship were upper caste and were arraigned against this ideology. They made several unreasonable demands like Periyar should not be mentioned as Thandhai Periyar (Father Periyar) and that Sankarachari should be mentioned with his honorific titles, and so on. Maniyammai stood her ground and argued with them that this was Periyar’s own newspaper and that they were free to mention Periyar as they like and challenged them to sue. She insisted there was nothing legally wrong in their usages and stood up against them and established these rights.

Likewise, Viduthalai also saw through numerous challenges including a major financial crisis created by the Income tax department when it blocked the Periyar Trust, the only source of funding for Viduthalai. That too was overcome thanks to activists of the movement who came forward to bring out the newspaper.

Even during the COVID pandemic, our comrades worked relentlessly to keep bringing out every issue of Viduthalai without a break. It was not an easy job with no transport and other hurdles. But surprisingly, it was the time when Viduthalai saw a stark increase in its readership. There’s always been a high reader-to-circulation ratio for Viduthalai, compared to other dailies.

What we face today is another challenge with communal forces wreaking havoc in full swing in the country. Our society is facing numerous perils like never before. The challenges for ideological papers like Viduthalai have only become multi-fold. We are used to it and we are prepared as always to swim against the tide and continue our journey.

Question: Where do you think Tamil Nadu stands in its path towards social reform and caste annihilation?

K Veeramani: Political changes are natural events in a democracy. Elections can bring change. The same cannot be said about social change. There is no guarantee that social change will happen. In the manner that religious change and social change are not same, similarly, political change and social change are different things. Periyar kept social change on a higher plane to everything else. What happened in 1947 was a change in government and the rulers. Though it is held as Independence Day, Periyar very boldly declared that it was a day of mourning. They (Indian nationalists) immediately declared that Periyar had no Desa Bhakthi (patriotism). Periyar replied that bhakthi towards human welfare is more important than towards a nation. Nations change. Its borders shrink. No rights can be declared towards the land. Rather, rights should be declared only for the people. Periyar wanted people to come together. He perpetually remained worried over people’s disunity.

Periyar’s goal in running the movement was to bring social change. When he was 90 years old, he wrote in a statement given to the Viduthalai titled “Have I changed?” thus: “I changed several political parties. I was in Congress. I worked for it. I led the party. All my actions, in either joining a party, working for it, or removing myself from it and supporting another party or opposing it were all aimed at achieving a single objective – which is social justice. Social Justice is central to me. I support whoever supports it and oppose whoever opposes it. That remains my yardstick.”

We are still in that situation to create the social change that Periyar wanted. We have not reached the destination. We still have to travel. Judging from the previous century from the period of the formation of the Justice Party, we have transformed to a great extent. However, whether the changes have been concretized at the level of consolidation, or whether going beyond, it is on a level that can be declared a growth trajectory is debatable, because there are at the same time counter-revolutions to prevent us from reaching the growth trajectory.

A group is waiting perpetually to take away all that we have achieved so far, not just waiting to rob what we have achieved but also to steal whatever we have received purely by chance during this period in our journey for social justice. We have the responsibility to save what we have so far, and while we are yet to achieve many things, we also should not lose what we have while more changes are to be brought in.

Q: There are not enough scientific thinkers in Tamil Nadu despite a high literacy rate. Scientific thinking is crucial in annihilating caste. What do you think is lacking in the education system and how do you propose it should be rectified?

K Veeramani: In 1976, a novel declaration was introduced in the Constitution even if that provision was not present during the introduction of the Constitution. It is not to be found in Constitutions of the world. Called fundamental duties, Article 51-A of fundamental duties defines that: “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop scientific temper. Spirit of Inquiry, Reform and Humanism.” What we had previously was definition of fundamental rights. Rights were granted. Duties were not defined.

However, development of scientific temper remained in words and not in deeds. The reason behind this is the prevailing system of education. The syllabus of education itself contains compilations of information that goes against science. One reason is that the oldest of literature is taught in schools in study of literature which is unscientific in character.

Scientific thinking is different from the study of science. We see that faith and superstition are strong even in a person who has MSc, DSc and research degrees. Periyar gave the example of the solar eclipse which happens when the sun, the moon and the earth come on a straight line. This is a scientific event when the shadow disappears for a short period of time. However, as per Aryan (brahmins had defined themselves as Aryans) definition of eclipse, snakes are eating the moon which is feared to bring bad tidings. It is believed that pregnant women will suffer due to exposure in that period and that eating will cause stomach aches. People are advised to have a bath once they reach home. Thus even the science teacher reaches home and has a bath which means that he is not spreading scientific temper. What is needed is an education that can spread scientific temper.

To break the superstition, Periyar took the example of Deepavali and asked two questions. The story of Deepavali goes that Naragasuran folded the earth like a scroll and hid it in the sea. He asked how is it possible when the earth is round. If it is explained that the story belongs to a period when there was no science then what about now when a model globe is present in every teacher’s table? Does it make sense to repeat the story, asked Periyar. Also, what was the person standing upon to fold the earth, Periyar asked. Was the sea a separate entity outside the world? How can science and Deepavali celebration co-exist or should science bid goodbye for the celebration to take place? We see that education with a scientific temper is clearly absent.

There is also a larger danger to society in the beliefs of pseudo-science. Fakes look more authentic than the real until they are found out. One also needs to look at the use to which scientific tools are put. Old stories in the name of Puranas are broadcast on modern gadgets like television. If this is the state of things both in the classroom and outside of it, will scientific temper develop? Development policies that will help a student cope with life challenges should be drawn from schools to universities and not these old tales. While attending a teachers’ conference in 1926 Periyar championed a change in the method of education where the teachers have to answer the student’s question. The creativity of the students and their thought process will improve immensely, he said. Questioning is the basis of science. The present education system does not allow for independent thinking. If a person scores first class in memorization and objective-type questions the conclusion is that there is no scientific education happening there. The basis of science is the “spirit of inquiry.” The conclusion made yesterday as per science can be wrong today. The courage to admit that is given by science. Faith does not give that courage.

One cannot question Puranas or the religions. But Science is all about asking questions. Though we know all this, we are still scared to question it.  So, we say that education should take us in the direction of fulfilling this objective of scientific thinking.

Q: A constant criticism by ideological rivals towards Dravidian parties has been that they have not managed to annihilate caste despite being in power for a period of time. Your response.

K Veeramani: Ambedkar answered this question wonderfully. He said caste is not a small building that can be broken immediately with just a few strokes of the hammer. It is wrong to imagine caste that way. If a chain binds the hands or the feet, it will be obvious and hence can be broken. Caste is a chain on the brain. Clamped very cleverly through the division of people. Instead of feeling that he is being insulted and needs to get out, the one who is soaked up in caste, though affected by it, finds things to be proud of in caste. Such stories have been created to justify caste. Every caste believes in some story or the other. If one caste believes it was seated with gods, another thinks his caste came from the winds. Those beliefs are so strong that they may not be removed easily. Though its bindings loosen up periodically, there are also people who come up to engage in cementing caste. To that extent, there are even attempts to explain caste scientifically. They say that some people are born intelligent and others are less intelligent, which goes against what science says. Even words like DNA are used in such arguments. Or casteists resort to cunning arguments like the feet are the strongest part of the body and that the Sudras and the Panchamas are important, which people of these castes themselves begin to believe to be a compliment. That is why a time frame cannot be given for caste annihilation. It has to be acknowledged, however, that we have passed several rounds in the path to annihilate caste.

The Dravidian Movement was founded 100 years ago. The Justice Party (from which the Dravidar Kazhagam and the political party the DMK was formed) came to power in 1920. Justice Party came to power in four different periods until 1937. When Panagal Arasar was the Chief Minister of the Madras Province a rule was passed prohibiting anyone from preventing Panchamars from using the streets or using the wells in Madras. The question of public passage was raised by Rettaimalai Srinivasan. So Justice Party came up with the order and gave the G.O. to him. In the same period Travancore (now in Kerala, which was then a kingdom) prohibited lower caste advocates from using the roads to reach the Courts to appear in cases because the roads were believed to become polluted if some castes used them. That became the Vaikkom struggle. The comparison is between the now most literate state and a state like Tamil Nadu (in Madras Province) which passed the law for usage even in those days.

As for elections and caste, we feel that a person from a majority caste in a constituency should not contest in that constituency. That alone will be a true election of a service-minded person. People should be elected based on their service or based on their ideology, belonging either to a political party or as an independent. Let such people come to political positions in public life based on honesty and fair-mindedness. Social reform is a long journey. We need not lose hope. Caste has been internalized based on faith and God. Belief in fate and the fruits of the previous birth resulting in upper and lower caste births and the faith that if one does one’s duty without question, it is possible to get into a higher caste birth in another birth has been successfully ingrained in people’s minds. All this needs to be challenged and we are travelling in that direction. When trains were invented and put to use, even Karl Marx thought that caste would become irrelevant. People sitting next to each other in trains has happened. But the same person wants to marry a person of his own caste once he reaches home. We have found medicines for the symptoms of the disease. We still have to reach for the root cause of the disease and destroy caste. That journey will continue.

Q: Can caste be annihilated? RSS claims that there is no end to Sanatana Dharma.

K Veeramani: (Laughs) To claim that Sanatana Dharma conceived by the Brahmin caste is permanent in this world is a lie. Brahmins were only permitted to recite the Vedas as per their Dharma. Are they doing that? Why are they studying in Engineering Colleges, in Medical Universities, or taking MBA classes? Why are they going into trade and business and exporting leather? As per Sanathana Dharma, Brahmins who sell food should go to hell. If Brahmins had followed their dharma, it would mean that their Dharma had won. But it is not so. Dravidian culture encourages people to acquire prosperity even if it means travelling across the seas. It is not so for the Brahmins who are not permitted to cross the sea. Dravidian culture says everyone is a relative, unlike theirs. This is why Madhan Mohan Malaviya (founder of Hindu Mahasabha) hesitated to travel beyond the sea (when he had to go to London.) His dilemma was that he had been working for the establishment of Hindu Dharma and founded the Kasi Banaras Hindu University but had to travel abroad. He is the predecessor of Savarkar (president of Hindu Mahasabha). That is why Brahmins resort to trickery. They have an exception to every rule of theirs. They call it atonement. This is different from the Dravidian culture where there is no place for forgiveness and one who commits wrong will get punished. Such Brahmin words do not find a place in the Dravidian dictionary. Malaviya took some soil from Kasi and kept it in his room to claim an exception and earned a sobriquet dirt-bundle-Malaviya. These are deceptions practiced.

Brahmin women do not live as per Sanathana Dharma either. They had very strict rules and faced numerous hardships. Today, the Brahmin women have changed vastly. A change which we welcome. They have a modern outlook. They cut their hair short and are living well. There is no Sanathana Dharma there. When a writer lost her husband, I met her to express my condolence. I had known her previously. It is human nature to offer condolence during tragic circumstances. I visited her as I knew her. She felt broken at that time. When I met her, I told her to remain unchanged in her appearance. She used to have a huge dot on her face. And she has retained her appearance to date. Can it be claimed that Sanatana remains when all this has changed? Sanatana Dharma is brought in only for NEET and in the case of education for the non-brahmins. Otherwise, it goes missing. Only when those kept below attempt to reach higher positions does the Brahmin bring up Sanatana Dharma. Otherwise, it does not operate.

Even stranger are the cases of Brahmins breaking their own rules of the Dharma. These days Brahmins are even conducting weddings via Zoom and Skype. The Brahmin priest officiates from here while the wedding is held abroad. Since they look at an auspicious time to conduct functions the question arises as to whether the time in India is taken into account or that in London. The outlook of the Brahmin has changed vastly. Before saying that Sanatana is unchanging, let them look in the mirror. Do they look the same as their grandparents?

Once brahmins in Madras went to Gandhi opposing the communal G.O. which gave reservations for everyone (including Brahmins). They told Gandhi that their Sanatana Dharma was in peril in the Madras Province and that they were in plight because of this G.O. Gandhi asked for statistics based on their complaint from Omandur (Ramasamy Reddiyar, then Justice Party Chief Minister of Madras Province) who replied that Brahmins had given up on reciting Vedas and still they claim to be Brahmins and also that the three percent population had 30 percent quota in the Communal G.O. but are complaining and asking for three percent. Gandhi repeated the same to the complainants. A month later, Gandhi was no more. We know what happened to Gandhi. Gandhi himself was an admirer of Sanathana Dharma. He himself couldn’t follow it. Sanathana Dharma is not in use today is the reality.

Q: Can the advent of the Dalit movement be deemed as the failure of the Dravidian movement?

K Veeramani: It is another form of victory for the Dravidian Movement. When Periyar was asked at a public meeting titled “Dravidian Nation for Dravidians,” as to what the benefit for Adi-Dravidars was. Periyar replied that there are no profits. Only loss will ensue. Madam Satyavani Muthu was seated next to him. Everyone was shocked at his reply. But he answered that the two letters (in Tamil) Adi, will go. Everyone will be a Dravidian, he said. There are some who are seeking to draw a fine line to differentiate among people. That in itself is proof that the Dravidian rule is growing in strength. This attempt to divide people as a ploy has been employed from the time of epics like Ramayana. There is nothing more to say on this.

Q: Do you regret the formation of the DMK, separating from the DK. Periyar held negative views on being part of electoral politics.

K Veeramani: Initially we were unhappy. When Anna (late Tamil Nadu C M, C Annadurai), in the presence of Rajaji (C Rajagopalachari) said that they would govern as per Rajaji’s advice, we were saddened. We also condemned it. However, when the same Anna came to Periyar Maaligai in Trichirapally (after winning the election) we forgot everything. Anna then stated that Periyar was his guiding spirit. It is a statement that resonates to this day up to the present Chief Minster. This gladdens us. What Anna said, back in those days, that DK and DMK are like a double barrel gun has been proved. The present CM declared self-respect ideals as the guiding principle in the State Assembly. However, what is more important is that Rajagopalachari is considered a shrewd man. We do not dispute that either, though our views and his are divergent ideologically. He is an experienced, older man. However, gladdened to hear that DMK had declared that it supports him and would seek his advice, Rajaji told Brahmins to hold their thread in one hand and vote for the DMK in the other and announced publicly that the DMK is an empty box exhausted of all the asafoetida. If his observations were true the situation wouldn’t be where it is today. We have to conclude that his intelligence did not work at that time. Anna had proved to be shrewder. When Anna met Periyar after winning, he said that he was placing his government at his disposal to do what he chose as a disciple would. Those were not mere words. Periyar asked for three laws to be passed. They were recognition of self-respect marriage, naming of Tamil Nadu, and the two-language policy that will not allow Hindi into Tamil Nadu. It was passed by Anna. During the rule of Kalaignyar M Karunanidhi, a law to make people of all castes into priests in Hindu temples followed. The present government has continued in the same spirit and has declared Periyar’s birthday as the day of Social Justice as per Kalaignyar’s wish and even sent women into the Hindu sanctum sanctorum. We are very happy that the ideology continues. This work is of paramount importance to us. Hence, we have to safeguard this government. If their job is to go into the secretariat. Our job is to stand guard outside and offer them protection.

Q: Do you think that a political party is just as important as a social movement?

K Veeramani: One should not compare the Tamil Nadu situation with that of the RSS as a movement and BJP as its political party. Both are different. Maybe, skimming on the surface, may give that impression, but it is not the same. RSS created BJP. However, DK did not create DMK. It is the opposite of that. And this chemistry is a different one. The ideology of DK and DMK is the same. It is not so largely between the RSS and BJP. There are several divisions there and they even differ from each other. It is not so here. We pass resolutions. It is our work to do so. It is their work to implement.

Q: Do you hold the view that electoral victories are equally important?

K Veeramani: Your question is why a coalition such as the one in Tamil Nadu did not win in other states. A movement such as Dravidar Kazhagam which is not into the electoral race can be one reason. However, it plays only a small part. What was formed in other states were political alliances which were forged only for the sake of elections. Here in Tamil Nadu, it was an alliance based on ideology. The alliance was not forged just before election like in the north but remained one for 10 years and was formed even while the parties were in the opposition and were fighting various issues. They came together on the Cauvery issue, NEET, NEP, etc. The common ideological standing had already strengthened the alliance. It will not break tomorrow. In other states, there is no place for ideology. Sudden political emergencies happen.

Q: Tamil Nadu stands out from other states in its views on federalism, NEET, NEP, etc. How far can Tamil Nadu get along with the rest of India in its political journey? Can it?

K Veeramani: Yes, we can. It is just like dousing a fire. We are facing a religious and caste fire, so to speak, which is a threat to democracy. Those who have taken their oath on the Constitution are bent upon breaking that very Constitution. Who can live if there is going to be no Constitution and no Democracy? This is being understood by the people themselves. People are aware and ready. It is only the leaders who have to be prepared. Whether the leaders catch up with the feelings of the people or not, the train for 2024 will run. Who will get on it and ensure their place on the train is the only issue. Of course, the credit for creating this boiling point will go to the Union government.

Q: It was Periyar who first translated and published Dr Ambedkar’s Annihilation Of Caste. Despite that, he has not reached people as much as he should have, in Tamil Nadu. Why?

K Veeramani: Ambedkar wrote in excellent English. Very many books in English have remained largely untranslated. Ambedkar’s books have to be translated into Indian languages. However, Ambedkar’s first translation was in Tamil and that book was “Annihilation of Caste.” It was enabled by Periyar. We still publish some of Ambedkar’s selected writings.

The Maharastra government has made a huge contribution in bringing out compiled volumes of Ambedkar’s writings. They compiled all his English works which is an important deed. This work should continue even today like that of the Tamil Nadu government which has announced bringing out Periyar’s work in 21 world languages. Likewise, Ambedkar’s work should also be translated and published in various languages. Translating Ambedkar’s work will be easier than Periyar’s, because Ambedkar’s writings have already been compiled. It is regrettable that there are many political movements that sprung in Ambedkar’s name but none of them strove to explain to people Ambedkar’s ideology like that of the Dravidian movement with respect to Periyar. However, Viduthalai Siruthaikal Katchi is doing commendable work in spreading Ambedkar’s ideology in Tamil Nadu.

  1. How do you view the existence of caste-based associations and parties (of the Backward Castes) in Tamil Nadu? Caste associations existed in those days and were even relevant back then. Periyar was invited by the associations to attend their meetings where he criticized them. Do you think caste associations are still relevant and should continue even today?

K Veeramani: There was a time when schools were closed to the Backward castes and education was denied to them. Periyar knocked the doors open. Today, when reservation has reached 69 percent in TN and the present government (of the DMK) is operating on the objective of apportioning equally to all, it is wrong to insist on holding on to caste. The only use of caste is to kill another caste person and to foment caste clashes so that unity becomes impossible to achieve. The land of Periyar has always held a clear sense of social justice. So, it is imperative for the upper castes which lost their domination, to a certain extent, (after reservation) to seek to reverse it. To achieve it they (upper castes) are cleverly teaching caste pride to castes. The only use of caste associations is to fight another caste.

It should be noted that nowhere in these caste clashes are the Brahmins visible. They point out that violence is between some castes and that they are nowhere involved. The major castes in every district are thus being used. Are we taking part in these clashes, is the Brahmin question. But who created this arrangement? It is what I usually state. Those on the lowest rung of the caste ladder are those who feel the hardest knock when the one right on top of the ladder moves just slightly. The ones below will feel a ripple effect knocking each other until the last one has a terrible fall. The one who fell down and got injured will question angrily. The one right on the apex whose movement caused the ripple will inquire quitely as to why those below are fighting each other. That is what caste setup means.

It is my opinion that caste-based organizations of the backward castes are no longer relevant. The reason for saying so is because we are marching towards a goal of “everything for everyone.” Periyar coined this self-respect slogan. Even for Brahmins, we are not saying that their proportional representation in education and employment should be diminished. Periyar, too, never said that. All we are saying is for them to live as human beings without considering themselves as upper caste and treating others as untouchable, unapproachable castes, etc.

There is a piece of unknown information on reservation under the Communal G.O. Uppercastes were 2.5 percent then. However, their reservation was 16 percent during that period. The upper castes went to court and filed a petition against this reservation (in the Chenbhakam Doraisamy case). The reservation was six times their presence in the population if 3 percent is taken as actual. The status of others was that they did not even get one percent. The one who has eaten well gets to eat more while the one who is starving remains starving. The social justice struggle to date is against the prevalence of this status quo.

Our struggle is to ensure that the opportunities that are unavailable should be opened up. It is to prevent those opportunities from going to the deserved that caste clashes, caste violence and caste pride are encouraged. Some castes are also brought together to say that we are different from another group of castes. All this is done so that people never come together. Periyar, in his time, did attend caste conferences only to condemn them for speaking on caste pride.

He used to tell them not to speak of pride. “You are not even educated. How many of you are IAS officers?” Periyar used to ask. Periyar would still have posed the same question if alive today. The reason why he attended caste conferences then was to get those castes their rights. When those rights are available automatically through the Dravidian Movement, the BC caste associations become irrelevant. Upper castes are using these caste associations covertly to disturb peace so that rights are not asked for. Those in the government today have the responsibility to monitor this. On that, the present Dravidian rulers are doing their work commendably.

Q: If you are to give a word of caution to democratic electoral parties over the 2024 election, what would that be?

K Veeramani: As for elections, campaigns should be held in a manner that is simple for people to understand. The year 2024 will not be that easy for the BJP.  People are prepared whether leaders are prepared or not. Price rise, inflation, rise in joblessness and economic factors are affecting people severely. BJP has reached a situation where they have to admit that promises, they made so far, were insincere. Gimmicks will not always work. No one can afford to think that they will remain forever. The sovereignty enshrined in the Indian constitution does not rest with the President, Prime Minister, Parliament or the Governors. It rests with the People. Democracy belongs only to the people.

(Interviewed by Radhika Sudhakar.)


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