Separate Electorates – periyar E. V. Ramasami

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Separate Electorates

Mr. E. V. Ramasami Naicker has issued the following statement to the press:

I am surprised to read the statement that Mr A. Ramasami Mudaliar has issued on the question of separate electorate. The statement is obviously made by Mr.Mudaliar in his personal capacity and not as a representative of the Non Brahmin party, though the “Hindu” and other Madras journals have utilized it under such headlines as “Non-Brahmin Leader’s views”.

Communal representation in all matters is still the creed of the Non Brahmin party. The party was nourished and brought up on this principle. The party has gained a large adherence among the masses owing to the steadfastness shown in the realization of this principle. It remains to be seen how far the party would maintain its strength among the people if, according to the advice of Mr. Ramasami Mudaliar, it throws to the four winds the demand for separate electorates as well as for reservation of seats in joint constituencies.

The case for separate electorates, says Mr.Mudaliar, was negatived once and for ever by the Joint Parliamentary Committee in 1919. The question cannot be reopened because, Mr.Mudaliar remembers, the Non-Brahmins tolerated the decision of the Joint Parliamentary Committee. The Non-Brahmin party which was in its infancy at that time, had not the strength to resist the decision and had therefore to make the best of the bad situation in which it found itself. But now that the party has grown in strength and the people at large have realized the evils of the decision of 1919, it would be absurd to impose the decision of two years ago as the laws of Medes and the Persians (a biblical phrase that denotes unchanging laws – editors). Again, in Mr.Mudaliar’s opinion, the question cannot be reopened unless an extraordinarily strong case has been made out for doing so. I would like to know, what, according to Mr.Mudaliar, would constitute “an extraordinarily strong case”. To say that no point has been made out for reopening this all important question is to give away the whole case for Non Brahmins. Mr. Ramasami Mudaliar has himself drawn vivid pictures in the columns of the “Justice” of the grievous wrongs that the Non Brahmin community is still suffering as regards both official and non official representation. The monopolists still hold undisputed sway in all walks of life. After ten years of “toleration” of the decision of the Joint Parliamentary Committee, the position of the Depressed classes, the Mussalmans, the Christians, and other Non Brahmin Communities has not only not improved but has visibly deteriorated.

In view of the retrograde recommendations of the Nehru Committee and in view of the reactionary evidence that the Bombay government tendered through Messers Turner and Griffiths, I see grave danger ahead of the Non Brahmin cause being lost not only before the Simon Commission but before the bar of public opinion. I therefore appeal to all Non Brahmins particularly leaders like Mr.Ramasami Mudaliar to bestir themselves and educate the public in favour of separate electorates and proportionate representation in the services.

Revolt, 7 November 1928

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