Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi reshapes identity, appoints 17 non-Dalits as district secretaries14th August 2023
Sources said out of 17 non-Dalit district secretaries, three are women, five are Muslims and one a Christian.
CHENNAI: Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), a party known to work for Dalit rights, is trying to reshape its identity as one that represents the broader populace. The party has appointed 17 non-Dalits as district secretaries out of the total 144. Sources said the decision was to have at least 10% of the district secretaries as non-Dalits. But since there were many deserving candidates, it exceeded the 10% mark. The party has also made noteworthy appointments of women and minority members to district and zonal positions.
Sources said out of 17 non-Dalit district secretaries, three are women, five are Muslims and one a Christian. A person from Muslim community has been selected as zonal secretary for Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri. Six Muslims and three non-Dalits have taken on roles as zonal deputy secretaries, in addition to several appointments at the state level.
Balasingam, VCK headquarters secretary, said, “From its inception, the VCK has been committed to the welfare of humanity as a whole, transcending specific communities or religion. Our history of rallies and protests addresses societal concerns within the Tamil and Indian contexts, with only a small fraction aimed at addressing Dalit oppression. Despite our overarching focus on human community, vested interests have labelled us Dalit-centric.”
The move aims to counter this narrative and based on the dedication of these individuals to the party’s principles and their merits. “Two out of our four MLAs are non-Dalit and Muslims. Now, we are extending the same inclusive strategy to our party’s organisational structure. The VCK remains committed to selecting the most suitable person, disregarding caste and religion,” Balasingam said.
A few second-rung VCK leaders TNIE spoke to also echoed this sentiment, pointing out that the party fielded non-Dalits and a Muslim candidate through its ticket during the 2016 Assembly elections when it was part of the People Welfare Alliance.
Journalist Durai Karthi weighed in on the VCK’s endeavours, stating, “Despite the VCK’s multi-faceted efforts, the party is often branded as Dalit-centric. This identity challenge is not unique to the VCK. Several political entities in the state, including the BJP, AIADMK, and AMMK, have also been grappling with similar negative perceptions. Now the VCK is proactively taking steps to redefine its public image.”
Karthi also said the move to appoint non-Dalits and minorities in organisational restructuring could contribute significantly to its aspiration of becoming a party that caters to the general public.
Journalist Raghavendra Ara sid the move reflects the leadership’s maturity. “Endeavours to expand the party’s influence are commendable, although it is important to recognise that shedding an established identity and forging a new one, be it in business or politics, is complex. Despite the challenges, the VCK’s persistent efforts deserve acknowledgement.”