The Tamil Nadu Jama’athul Ulama Sabai on Tuesday openly backed the DMK-led alliance. The Tamil Nadu Bishop Council on Saturday decided to back a ‘secular front’ and to make an announcement on Wednesday.
Community leaders have conveyed their concerns over conflicts between groups on construction or renovation of religious places in the state, and alleged ‘harassment’ of minority educational and charitable institutions. “Today, people are being divided on religious lines. There is need to back a secular front and keep away the fascist forces. We will inform our people in a day’s time. They are, however, free to vote for whomsoever they wish for,” TN Bishop Council deputy secretary general L Sahayaraj said.
“The BJP has been trying hard to gain a foothold in the state by undermining the country’s democratic system. The only way to protect the country and its people is to defeat the fascist BJP in this election,” the Ulama Sabai said in a press release. The clerics also warned that splitting votes to back smaller alliances would end up “helping the anti-people forces”.
The Ulama Sabai, one of the most influential bodies of the community in the state, appealed to its members to back the DMK-led Secular Progressive Alliance. The community leaders justified their decision to back ‘secular fronts’, pointing to the contentious CAA-NRC, Triple Talaq Act, and the BJP’s more recent promise to enact legislation to criminalise religious conversion and to ban cow slaughter.
A year after supporting the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Parliament, the AIADMK has made a poll promise to urge the Narendra Modi government to withdraw the CAA. The PMK, a key ally, had supported the bill too. Despite the requests from the DMK, the EPS government did not pass a resolution against the CAA-NRC in the state assembly. The AIADMK’s flip-flop on the Triple Talaq bill had cost the party dear in the Muslim-dominated Vellore Parliamentary seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. In a meeting with Muslim community representatives in Coimbatore, chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami sought to allay their fears, assuring them his party’s support.
The AIADMK minority wing secretary Anwhar Rajaa said the electoral alliance with the BJP was only temporary and it had nothing to do with the ideologies of the parties. “It is only the AIADMK that will run the government, not the BJP,” he said.