Legislating for Liberation? Dalit Electoral Politics and Social Change in Tamil Nadu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The Viduthalai Ciruthaigal Katchi (VCK – Liberation Panther Party) – the largest Dalit (formerly untouchable) Party in Tamil Nadu – boycotted elections until 1999 and called on Dalits to retaliate against caste-discrimination. Its decision to enter electoral competition in 1999 was heavily contested and bitterly resented by many activists. In response, they insisted that this was not ‘a change of principle, but a change of tactics that could be reversed’. A decade on, the VCK is now an established political player in the state and has been portrayed as being at the forefront of Dalit struggles in India (Omvedt 2004). Has the ‘Dalit revolution’ that is said to have occurred in northern India moved south, or have the VCK succumbed to the ‘impasse’ in Dalit politics (Shah 2004)? This paper draws on ethnographic fieldwork to offer an assessment of Dalit politics in Tamil Nadu in both political and social spheres.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDalits in Neo-Liberal India
Subtitle of host publicationMobility or Marginalisation?
EditorsClarinda Still
Place of PublicationNew Delhi
PublisherRoutledge India
ISBN (Print)1138020249, 978-1138020245
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2014


  • Dalits
  • India


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