The rising wave of nationalism across the country has forced the staunchest of anti-Hindu leaders of DMK to chart a course correction route. DMK President M K Stalin, an atheist known for his anti-Hindu credentials, last week held Lord Muruga’s spear-like weapon ‘Vel’ and posed for shutterbugs at a makkal grama sabha meeting at Tiruttani. As soon as the pretentious photos of Stalin with the Vel went viral on social media platforms, both BJP and the ruling AIADMK jumped into the frenzy to call out Stalin for his bogus devotion to Lord Murugan.
BJP State President L. Murugan said Stalin was forced to hold the ‘Vel’ only because of the “success” of the BJP’s ‘Vetrivel Yatra’.
“Mr. Stalin would speak against Hindus at some occasions, and would later say the party stands with the Hindu community. What is the need for these double standards? Everyone is aware that it is being done for votes,” said Murugan who further added “The people are aware and they are not ready to believe you [DMK].”
Chief Minister Palaniswami also targeted Stalin and called it a PR exercise orchestrated by ‘one-hit-wonderboy’ Prashant Kishor, who is the poll strategist for Stalin and DMK for the upcoming assembly elections.
“Today you all would have seen a person holding a ‘Vel’ in his hand. He is Stalin. He has started acting now, while the story, dialogue and direction is by Prashant Kishor (DMK’s poll strategist for the assembly election). God will bless only those who offer true bhakti and not those who act. If you act, keeping votes in mind, then even God will act in a way so as to defeat you and he will only support the AIADMK,” Palaniswami said.
Before 2014, BJP never really looked towards the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu which were ruled by Communist and Dravidian political parties. However, since 2016, the saffron party has started actively working on the ground to shake the foundations of the established parties.
In the 2016 assembly election, the party performed better than expected in both the states and bagged 2.86 per cent and 10.6 per cent votes in Tamil Nadu and Kerala respectively. In the 2021 general election, the party is making efforts to make major inroads in both the states, with Tamil Nadu- where there is a power vacuum after the death of Jayalalitha- being a major focus.
Given the fact that 87.6 percent of Tamil Nadu’s population is Hindu and the majority of them are extraordinarily Dharmic — there is a vast ground for Hindutva politics in the state.
Fearing a phoenix-like uprise of BJP in the state, which certainly cannot be ruled out at this point, Stalin has resorted to pandering and wooing the Hindu populace by posing for some well-staged pictures. In the past, the likes of Congress have tried to play the Hindutva card by proclaiming the party prince Rahul Gandhi as a ‘janeu dhaari’ man, only to see the strategy backfire spectacularly.
DMK in past has been extremely abusive of Shree Ram. DMK leader Karunanidhi had once shamelessly said that Shree Ram was a drunkard and that Ramayan was a lie. DMK, like Congress, had also supported the destruction of Ram Setu citing there was no historical evidence to prove the existence of Shree Ram.
After the historic Ram Mandir Janmabhoomi event happened last year, DMK was upset with its ally Congress for supporting the event as Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Kamal Nath and several other party leaders openly flaunted their support for the temple’s construction.
Thus it is a bit difficult for observers like us to gulp down Stalin’s soft reboot towards Hindutva. The track-record does not incite any confidence and if Stalin wants himself to be taken seriously by the public, then he should openly come out in support of Ram Mandir. Merely holding the ‘Vel’ is not going to help his or his party’s fortunes.