‘Sanatan Dharma is timeless and evolves. Reformers come from within and not from outside. DMK men are selective atheists. Divide the majority and consolidate the minority is their modus operandi,’ says BJP’s TN chief.
Yhe President of the Tamil Nadu unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party, K. Annamalai, responded to The Sunday Guardian’s queries on the Sanatan Dharma controversy and on Dravidian politics in the state, among other issues.
Q: What is your response to Udhayanidhi Stalin’s unsavoury comments about Sanatan Dharma?
A: Sanatan Dharma is eternal. Third generation dynasts like Udhayanidhi Stalin, who has a handful of flop movies to his name and a man who runs away from media if asked uncomfortable questions, should educate himself with the teachings of Sanatan Dharma. Udhayanidhi Stalin’s call for eradicating Sanatan Dharma is equivalent to him calling for eradicating Hindu Dharma practitioners.
After receiving opposition from all quarters, including the parties in the I.N.D.I. Alliance, Udhayanidhi Stalin backtracked, saying that he advocated eradicating patriarchal practices in Sanatan Dharma.
It is unfortunate that a person like Udhayanidhi Stalin, who has absolutely no achievements to his name in the field of religious discourse, believes that he is justified in calling for the eradication of Sanatan Dharma because someone in his party wrote it on a piece of paper and gave it to him.
Sanatan Dharma is timeless and evolves. Saints and reformers such as Swami Vivekananda, Dayananda Saraswathi, Ramanujar and many others were practising Hindus who shed a few of the practices in Hinduism with the evolution of humankind. Reformers come from within and not from outside.
DMK men are selective atheists. Divide the majority and consolidate the minority is their modus operandi. People of Tamil Nadu see through this selective outrage and DMK’s picking up subjects such as these whenever their government grows unpopular.
The Sanatan Dharma that Udhayanidhi Stalin thinks is the concept of Sanatan Dharma, is practised within the boundaries of Arivalayam (DMK headquarters in Chennai).
Q: Do you think that DMK is trying to push Dravidian philosophy, which is getting blurred with Hindu nationalism sentiments, by allowing comments like these?
A: I’m afraid I have to disagree with the phrase Hindu nationalism. That is a word invented by people who have developed an idea based on what a few in our country would like our party branded. On 28 May 2023, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated our new Parliament, I am sure you would have noted two significant things. The Saiva Atheenams of Tamil Nadu handed over the Sengol to Prime Minister Modi, and the Sengol was installed in the place it rightfully deserves and not a museum where it was cast away as a walking stick.
There was also a Sarva Dharma Prarthana, which included seers from all religions praying for the nation’s well-being. The social welfare programmes of the Central government do not discriminate between religions, caste or sects. For over 60 years, Congress kept “roti, kapda, makaan” as an electoral promise and failed to deliver either. PM Modi has ensured concrete houses to all; 37% of Ujjwala beneficiaries are minorities. 11% of the Mudra loans sanctioned were given to minorities. In 2021-22, the Central government spent over Rs 4,186 crore on scholarships and grants for education for minority children.
During our En Mann En Makkal Yatra, we have met innumerable minorities who benefited from our Prime Minister’s welfare programmes. Of the 14 State Honours of various countries received by our PM Modi, seven are given by Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia, where the Holy Mecca and Medina are located.
The Dravidian philosophy propagated today is an outcome of hatred and divide engineered by the East India Company and the missionaries. It is similar to communism in India. It does not work for the development of our nation and is a haven for all anti-national elements. To summarise, Dravidian philosophy calls a suicide bombing incident a cylinder blast. The Jamaat in Coimbatore called the Coimbatore blast last year a terrorist incident and condemned it. But DMK would never dare to do the same because the divide they engineered would vanish with that one statement.
In Tamil Nadu, Dravidian philosophy is on its path of decline as it has not delivered what it claimed, and no one in the state resonates with it. Before DMK, it was the Justice Party. The DMK learnt from the Justice Party’s decline and came as a new package. New names, yet nothing changed. After Bharat Ratna Kamarajar, there was a void in Congress, which G.K. Moopanar filled in the 1990s. The lack of viable options let parties like DMK be re-elected despite people knowing they are corrupt.
Will the Dravidian Party, the ideologue of DMK, dare to repeat the 1971 event in Salem today? They wouldn’t, as the turf has changed today, and they will be dealt with by the people, not the political parties, if they dare to insult any religion. The HR&CE department under the DMK government is used as an effective diversion as and when their Hindu hatred crosses the line.
The people of Tamil Nadu, significantly beyond Chennai, are vigilant to the divide propelled by the DMK with the advent of New Age media.
Q: Do you see an end to dynasty politics in the near future?
A: The people of our country voted in favour of Thiru Narendra Modi. Not once, but twice. They will vote him to power for the third consecutive time. They saw Narendra Modi as a viable alternative they could trust with their vote in 2014. The people of our country gave us a historic mandate in 2019 and will repeat the same in 2024.
The beginning of the end of dynasty politics has already begun. Given a viable option, people today want one from amongst them to be elected to power to resonate their thoughts and not someone sitting in the high tower.
Q: How do you respond to comments about BJP’s electoral abilities in Tamil Nadu by your opponents? What are the prospects of the BJP in the 2024 elections?
A: I am sure you will acknowledge the fact that the parties in the I.N.D.I. Alliance say that they will win the 2024 Parliament elections with historic numbers despite knowing that Prime Minister Modi will be re-elected again. So, what the opposition says about other parties’ electoral abilities should not be taken seriously. We have grown to become the third largest party by contesting independently in urban local body elections. We know it is a long battle, and we are spending our energy for the right cause and are marching in the right direction.
During our En Mann En Makkal Yatra, we have met innumerable beneficiaries of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s social welfare programmes. They are his brand ambassadors. They are taking his voice to the people of their locality.
DMK’s divide and rule is also falling flat; we received equal numbers of Bhagavat Gita, Quran and Bible during the yatra. The people of Tamil Nadu are unwilling to put up with the lawlessness and corruption of the DMK government.
Rs 30,000 crore is the money the Chief Minister’s son and son-in-law have made in a year; this is an admission of the former finance minister of the state government. DMK has neither fulfilled their electoral promise nor has spent the money sanctioned by the Central government for the welfare of the people.
We are confident that the people of Tamil Nadu will choose the man working for the nation over those working to accumulate wealth for their families.
Q: Your opposition, mainly DMK, calls you more of a social media politician than on the ground—your response.
A: They have plenty of officers in the state intelligence unit; I am sure the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister receives reports on the overwhelming response that our Yatra and public meetings receive. All it would take for the Chief Minister is to read one of those reports to understand the reality.
We do not spend our energy enlightening naysayers. The people will in the upcoming election.
Q: En mann, En Makkal seems to have gathered steam after Sanatan comments…
A: We began our Yatra in Rameswaram on the 28th of July, with our Home Minister Amit Shah flagging it off. From the first day to date, we have received an overwhelming response from the people. The call for the eradication of Sanatan Dharma has antagonised the people of Tamil Nadu, and it is natural for people to come out in support of those opposing the call for eradication.
Q: What is the party trying to achieve by this campaign?
A: The motto of En Mann En Makkal Padayatra is to take the achievements of Prime Minister Narendra Modi across 234 Assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu.
Before we began the Padayatra, we released part 2 of the DMK files and a white paper on reducing dependence on TASMAC for the state’s revenue. The corrupt DMK government in the state has not responded to the corruption charges. Recently, they questioned us on Narendra Modi’s contribution to Tamil Nadu.
Tamil Nadu is one of the top states which has benefited highly from the Narendra Modi-led Central government. We immediately released a white paper summarising the Rs 10.76 lakh crore benefit received by Tamil Nadu in the last 9 years.
As a karyakarta of the BJP, I am dutybound to take these achievements across Tamil Nadu and to meet the beneficiaries of our Central government’s pilferage-free deliverance of social welfare programmes.
Q: Does Tamil Nadu need a change in political discourse and a new narrative? What are your thoughts?
A: We have begun changing the political discourse and the narrative centred on corruption and governance.
However, a few of the media houses in Tamil Nadu are not asking the right questions to the state government and often dwell on trivial matters. We have with evidence published scams related to DMK, but the mainstream media has yet to debate even one of them.
But with the increase in social media penetration, the media houses today are unable to play a significant role in curtailing the transfer of information.
Q: Can you make your stand clear on NEET and NEP?
A: We have always maintained that NEET is pro-poor and is an examination to identify the deserving. Medical education was extended to the rich, and parties such as DMK fixed medical seats before the advent of NEET.
NEET has today ensured children from underprivileged households fulfil their medical aspirations. During our Yatra, we also met with children who passed NEET without coaching. This year, four students from Tamil Nadu have found places in the top 10 ranks in the country. DMK’s recent protest against NEET was met with no response from children and parents.
For the first time, the National Education Policy has given more emphasis to the child’s mother language and has allowed the child to study three languages. I will always encourage children to learn as many languages as possible, as today’s world is highly competitive. The National Education Policy 2020 is leaps and bounds in the right direction.
Q: Will the Cauvery issue become a bone of contention in the near future? You have served in Karnataka as an IPS officer and are now on the other side of the fence. What, according to you, is the solution? Should we nationalise rivers?
A: Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the Central government and ended the long water-sharing tussle between Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry. During the BJP government in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu received in excess of the water allocated for the state. But ever since Congress has come to power in Karnataka, they have invented reasons not to let water flow to Tamil Nadu. Like how his father, M. Karunanidhi, gave up the rights of Tamil Nadu in Cauvery, M.K. Stalin is worried about the Alliance over our state’s rights.
The government at the Centre is also working on interlinking rivers to ensure excess water does not drain into the ocean but is put to effective use.
Suppose the states are unwilling to listen to the water management authority’s opinion. In that case, I am sure the Centre will implement a mechanism to ensure that the farmers in the lower riparian states do not suffer.
Q: Last question: Has the time come to review Sanatan Dharma to make it more relevant to this day and age?
A: Most of our practices today have a historical context. Over the last 1,000 years, Sanatan Dharma has reinvented itself. I am unsure what makes you think our practices today are irrelevant. This is not a technology that needs an upgrade; this is a way of life. If you need clarity on the Dharma, you must find yourself a guru to eliminate your doubts, not an atheist.