DMK youth membership drive to help leadership transition in future | Chennai News

CHENNAI: The recently launched “Dravidian model” workshops aim at reaching out to apolitical youngsters like Penshiya. The postgraduate student, along with eight of her friends, attended the workshop in Tuticorin and found it an “eye-opener” as they heard narratives on how the Dravidian movement evolved and how it impacted social engineering in the state.
The young membership drive by the DMK’s youth wing led by Udhayanidhi Stalin is seen as a long-term mission for a change in cadre profile and a leadership transition in future, say DMK sources. The party has also been actively using the youth wing cadres to expose the failures of the DMK government through various protests and demonstrations.
DMK senior leader and MP Tiruchi N Siva said conferences and public meetings were key ingredients of the party since the days of Anna (DMK founder C N Annadurai). Then, the party organised several public meetings to propagate the ideology of the party. After the formation of the youth wing, it organised elaborate conferences along with the parent unit and the propaganda programmes have evolved over time.
“Now such programmes and campaigns are being carried out in a systematic manner in each constituency,” said Siva who is one of the speakers in the workshop panel. Siva focuses on socio-economic issues pre and post 1900 (pre or post Justice party) and how it fought the old-world order to free the oppressed, suppressed and depressed communities.
For Chennai-based businessman M A Aroon Felix, 42, attending the workshop in Kodambakkam helped in his political understanding. One of its key speakers was Thousand Lights MLA Dr Ezhilan N.
“Though my family is a DMK sympathiser, I was apolitical until I attended the workshop and listened to Dr Ezhilan speak. My perspective has changed after learning about the Justice Party, and how policies like reservation shaped the future of the oppressed section of the society,” said Felix, who changed his Twitter profile to “Dravidian Stock.”
He went on to attend another workshop in Chepauk constituency and purchased books on Dravidian history to improve his understanding. “Such workshops would debunk false information spread by certain persons who are ridiculing chief minister M K Stalin’s Dravidian model of governance,” he added.
Several participants in such workshops in different constituencies echoed similar views. Pensiya said her friends from Tirunelveli travelled to Thoothukudi to attend the workshop. “We never knew that it was the Dravidian movement that paved the way for empowerment of women through education and equal rights,” she said.
The workshop was designed in such a way so as to encourage participants to interact with speakers on Dravidian ideology and how it had influenced the framing of policies and schemes. The youth and students’ wings of the DMK were participating in good numbers, besides bringing several youths representing various segments of society.
The campaign, which was aimed at spreading Dravidian ideology to young generation, neutral voters and increasing party strength, has received “overwhelming response” among the young cadre and rattled the opposition parties and right wing, according to DMK leaders and organisers of the workshop. This, indeed, prompted youth wing leader Udhayanidhi to double the number of workshops, to cover all 234 constituencies.
Reiterating that his style of governance is ‘Dravidian Model’ that promotes social justice and equality, chief minister and DMK president M K Stalin asked the students, women and IT wing to join hands to conduct the workshops. The party had passed a resolution to this effect during the district secretaries meeting in the last week of May this year.
“Going back to the roots is the need of hour when forces, which are against social justice, are trying to make a foothold in the state. Such workshops will revitalise the party and infuse ideologically oriented young cadres into the party,” said vice chairman of state planning commission J Jeyaranjan, who is one of the regular speakers. He has so far addressed 21 workshops and said the response was good. Senior DMK leaders and MPs Trichy N Siva and A Raja were among the 17 speakers roped in for the workshop. So far, more than 80 workshops were conducted.
Several senior leaders opined that the party had lost a generation by moving away from its core strength of conducting workshops for Illaignar Pasarai (youth wing). “After 1980, the Dravidian parties moved to populist culture and purchasing of votes. It created a vacuum of ideology-oriented cadre. Now, there is a historical necessity to take such an initiative to expand their baseline as BJP and right-wing organisations are conducting a series of programmes to popularise their ideology here,” Prof Ramu Manivannan, a political critic, said.
Asking the participants for the educational qualification of their parents, grandparents, and their socio-economic conditions in those days are how the workshops start a dialogue. “These questions will take the youngsters back to the olden days when the Justice Party and its fight for social justice for the common man began. It throws light on how they were denied education, discriminated against in the name of caste, and how reservation came into existence and policies that help their present generation to escape from the clutches of poverty through education were brought in as well as the fight for women’s rights,” said DMK spokesperson Rajiv Gandhi.

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