Though Muslims form just six per cent of Tamil Nadu’s population the ruling AIADMK has, on the eve of Assembly election, changed its stand on Citizenship Amendment Act.
The lone AIADMK MP in Lok Sabha and 11 in Rajya Sabha had voted in favour of the Citizenship Amendment Bill in December 2019. The support in the Upper House was in particular crucial for the ruling BJP.
But now the party’s manifesto is saying that it would put pressure on the Bharatiya Janata Party for the revocation of the CAA.
It remains to be seen as to what prompted the AIADMK to change its stand as Muslims do not form any significant voting bloc in the state, nor have they been overwhelmingly voting for the AIADMK in the manner in which they used to do so in the case of Trinamool Congress in West Bengal or Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar.
An opposition towards the CAA by BJP’s alliance partners in Assam is understandable as the state had witnessed six years’ (1979-1985) long agitation against the outsiders. The All Assam Students’ Union, the students’ wing of the Asom Gana Parishad which is sharing power with the BJP, went on warpath against the CAA. A couple of regional outfits have also come up to work for the defeat of the BJP.
But in Tamil Nadu, where the demand has often been raised by various parties to give citizenship to an estimated 70,000 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, the CAA, as such, has not been a big political issue as in Assam.
Political analysts are of the view that chief minister E Palaniswami does not want to lose whatever Muslim votes his party used to get. The AIADMK fears that an alliance with the BJP may turn them away towards the DMK-Congress-Left alliance which is already going strong in the state.
With just one MP in the Lok Sabha the AIADMK is actually not in a position to exert much pressure on the BJP at the Centre.