By Syed Ali Mujtaba
Chennai: The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, after ending its ties with the BJP in September 2023, is trying to resurrect the party from scratch. It’s back on the Dravidian lines, that is 1916 Justice Party lines that rose in opposition to Sanatan Dharma besides a host of other such things,
In an effort to regain its lost ground, the AIADMK is now playing the ‘Muslim card’ and has demanded the release of “Muslim prisoners” languishing in the jails for a very long time in the state.
In a highly spirited speech Leader of the Opposition Edappadi K. Palaniswami demanded the release of Muslim prisoners languishing for more than 25 years in the various prisons in the state. This includes those held following the 1998 Coimbatore bomb blast, in which senior BJP leader L K Advani was targeted for his explicit role in the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992. There are 37 life convicts from the Muslim community who are held in prison for more than 25 years.
Making a speech in the last Assembly session, E. Palaniswami argued that it was the AIADMK government’s decisions that led to the release of seven convicted prisoners who were languishing in jail much after the term of punishment had got over in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
With regard to the release of prisoners, the DMK government after coming to power in 2021 had constituted the Authinathan committee to look into this humanitarian issue. The committee recommended 264 life prisoners for premature release. The DMK government, among them, had shortlisted 49 prisoners including Muslims who were fit to be pardoned and released.
The recommendation of the Authinathan committee is pending the consent of Governor R N Ravi, who has a running feud with the current DMK government.
Edappadi K Palaniswami, who became the general secretary of the AIADMK, after the death of party supremo J Jayalalithaa allied with the BJP in 2017, a move that saw the erosion of Muslim support for the AIADMK.
Muslims constitute about 6% of the votes Tamil Nadu has six Muslim parties vying for influence, plus two main Dravidian parties, the Congress and the Dalit parties. In the last Assembly election, Muslims overwhelmingly voted for the DMK and its Muslim aligned parties.
In this background, the effort made by the AIADMK to woo the Muslim vote has to be understood.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at email@example.com