Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Monday unveiled a statue of former Prime Minister VP Singh here, calling it a "duty" of the ruling DMK to honour the late "guardian of social justice." He also called upon the Centre to take up caste-wise census along with the "delayed" national population census to ensure proportionate reservation for the deserving.
If Uttar Pradesh was Singh's mother-state, Tamil Nadu was his "father-state," Stalin said.
Stalin unveiled the late PM's life-sized statue, installed on the Presidency College premises in the city, in lines with an announcement made by him in the Tamil Nadu Assembly in April this year. He unveiled the statue of Singh along with Samajwadi Party leader and former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. Singh's family members were present on the occasion.
Stalin, Yadav and others paid floral tributes to a portrait of Singh.
Later, addressing a public event to mark the occasion, Stalin, president of the ruling DMK, said he considered it as his duty to install the statue of the guardian of social justice on the college premises so that the life and achievements of Singh could be learnt by everyone.
"His history should be told to the students. That's why we have erected his statue in a college... also, the DMK considers it as its duty to install Singh's statue," he said. He added the statue is located near the memorial of late DMK president M Karunanidhi on the Marina Beach.
Stalin said he had met Singh only twice in his lifetime and the former Prime Minister had appreciated him for the massive procession he had taken in Chennai in 1988. He recorded his appreciation for Singh's family including his wife Sita Kumari, son Ajay Singh, and others, for attending the function.
"I don't wish to call you as V P Singh's family...we are also part of the V P Singh family. We are showing our gratitude to him by installing a statue for Singh, who firmly implemented the Mandal Commission recommendation," Stalin said.
Ajay Singh thanked the CM for his gesture.
Akhilesh Yadav said the unveiling of the statue sent a clear message across the country ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election.
Stalin, whose homestate Tamil Nadu has a caste-based reservation of 69 per cent, had in April announced that the Tamil Nadu government would install a statue for Singh, then recalling that the former PM had implemented the 27 per cent quota for Other Backward Classes in Central government jobs based on the recommendation of the B P Mandal Commission.
The CM also stressed on the need for proper implementation of quota policy for the OBC, SC/ST, and the minorities. He said an all-political party MP committee should be constituted to oversee the implementation of the reservation policy at the national level.
"All political parties keen on ensuring social justice should unite and strive for the people's well-being," the chief minister said.
Deploring the "inadequate representation" of OBCs in central government jobs, its institutions, and even the judiciary, the Chief Minister said people from the upper caste continued to occupy the posts in central government offices and the representation of the OBC, SC/ST and minorities was meagre.
"The situation even in the judiciary is very grim. The representation for the backward and deprived sections was far too below the mark," he said.
Recalling Singh's association with Tamil Nadu, the DMK in particular, Stalin said when the former was finding resistance to his decision to implement the Mandal Commission recommendations, Karunanidhi had at an event in Chennai that day, had recited a poem strongly backing the late leader.
Singh once broke protocol to visit Karunanidhi's residence, Stalin pointed out.
By installing a statue for Singh, "we have shown our gratitude to him," the CM said and heaped praises on the late leader for his commitment for the backward sections.
He also recalled Singh's various other initiatives including "electoral reforms", panels to address farmers' issues among others.
The Cauvery Tribunal on the inter-state river water dispute was also established by Singh, Stalin said.
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