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28 MADURIKA RASARATNAM boards, and cooperative societies. “The existence of so many opportunities to capture at least some power tends to persuade parties and politicians to remain engaged with the politics of elections and bargaining, even when they suffer defeats in some contests” (Ibid.). By the time the legislation to proscribe secessionist parties was introduced, the DMK had already experienced some success in municipal board elections, including in Madras city. The DMK’s decision to abandon secession was motivated as much by the desire to protect its organization and the gains it had already made as by the fear of government repression. Echoing Manor’s observations on the internal heterogeneity of ethnic and linguistic groups, Kanchan Chandra has argued that the Indian constitution’s recognition of multiple social identities has undermined the possibility of ethnic polarization (Chandra 2005). Constitutional provisions for caste based affirmative action policies and the recognition of new states on a regional, linguistic or tribal basis has meant that multiple categories of ethnic identity become possible bases for political mobilization. As each individual has multiple identities, each individual can also find themselves in a majority language group—but, in a minority caste group within that language group. A party that mobilizes a particular language group could find that another party acting in the name of a caste or regional group will attract not only speakers of the minority language group, but also some speakers of the majority language. The fragmentation of the DMK’s support base and the Tamil Nadu electorate as a whole is partly a result of the constitutional recognition of cross cutting caste cleavages. During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s the DMK support base was fractured by the emergence of the Patali Makal Katchi (PMK), a party representing the Vanniyars, an intermediate caste group concentrated in the northern districts of Tamil Nadu. The PMK claimed that educationally “forward” castes were monopolizing access to the jobs and educational places reserved for the OBCs. The party demanded that a portion of the OBC reservation be allocated for especially backward castes. Having secured this demand, it has since successfully mobilized the Vanniyar vote and entered into coalitions both at the state and national level. It is also worth noting the contexts in which Tamil Nadu parties have taken up the Sri Lankan Tamil issue. Sankaran Krishna’s analysis of India’s intervention in Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict shows convincingly how Tamil Nadu political leaders’ advocacy of the Sri Lankan Tamil issue was guided by the central government’s changing policy. During the 1970’s, as the confrontation between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil representatives escalated, the Indian government pursued a policy of nonintervention and kept up cordial relations with the Sri Lankan government. By the early 1980’s, however, India was increasingly concerned by the growing

Sagar XVII — 2007  
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