Thol Thirumavalavan is the president of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, or VCK, a political party in Tamil Nadu, and a member of parliament from the state’s Chidambaram constituency. He rose to prominence in the 1990s as a Dalit leader and unsuccessfully contested the 1999 and 2004 Lok Sabha elections, before winning in 2009 from Chidambaram. He was elected to the parliament for the second time in 2019. His party is presently in alliance with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, or DMK. Before joining electoral politics, he was a leader of the Dalit Panther Iyyakkam, or the Dalit Panther Movement, which later turned into the VCK.
In a conversation with Sreerag PS, an editorial intern at The Caravan, Thirumavalavan discussed the government’s recent moves in Kashmir and the dangers of eroding India’s federal structure. “Hindu Hindi Hindustan, BJP is working only for this agenda,” he said. “Nationalism doesn't mean destroying all other plurality in the country.”
Sreerag PS: How do you evaluate the government’s recent decision to effectively nullify Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir?
Thol Thirumavalavan: Our party stand is in opposition to it. They didn’t even bring it to the notice of the parliament. They brought it and immediately took it for discussion on the topic. This is autocratic, undemocratic and totally unconstitutional. We have no power to force Kashmir to join India—that means we have no power to ask them to lose their special status, neither do we have the power to repeal or amend the Article . This is really a historical betrayal, not only of the people of Kashmir, it is totally against the constitution. This is the agenda of RSS and all other Sangh Parivar organisations. Now they have their own strength in Lok Sabha and even in Rajya Sabha, so they did this autocratically without considering the feelings and aspirations of opposition parties. I oppose this.
We are part of the DMK alliance in Tamil Nadu, so on the tenth of [August], we had a meeting with all DMK-allied parties and passed a resolution against the [Narendra] Modi government regarding the Kashmir issue. On behalf of our party VCK, we are going to convene a demonstration against the Modi government on this issue. Amit Shah says that we have repealed Article 370 and Article 35A, so anyone can go to Jammu and Kashmir and buy the land. What is this? Why are you opening the door to everyone?
SPS: At a recent event in Chennai, to mark BR Ambedkar’s birth anniversary, you delivered a speech in which you said that the government’s moves in Kashmir have “opened doors and spread the red carpet to welcome Adanis and Ambanis.” What did you mean?
TT: To speak frankly, the Modi government is only meant for corporates and multi-national companies. Modi is a product of corporates. They are bound to do everything only for the welfare of corporates and MNCs. This decision is not meant for people of India, it is meant only for the corporates. So, definitely, within a couple of years, all corporates will purchase Jammu and Kashmir—they will dominate, they will invest and will suck all the minerals and all natural resources from there.