NOTA: When caste mars the protest vote

Illustration: Prathap Ravishankar

The Adanjiamman temple had been closed for several years. In 2013, a group of Leftist and dalit activists forced it open to ensure that dalits be granted entry. Things were smooth for nearly a year before the temple at Nathanallur near Wallajahbad, in Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu, shut again.

In the villages of Tamil Nadu, it is common to find temples dedicated to caste groups. Some temples are deigned common to all, and the temple for Adanjiamman, a folk deity, is one such temple.

Around 20 years ago, as the relationship between vanniyars — a numerous intermediate caste group and pariars — a dalit caste group — deteriorated, vanniars started objecting to pariars coming to the Adanjiamman temple.”Dalits were using the temple pond, too. They would wash themselves as well as their cattle. How could we allow that,” asks Gomathi (name changed on request), a vanniyar woman.

Gomathi wasn’t particularly enthused by the elections. She voted NOTA.

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