Ever since Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin’s son and cabinet colleague Udhayanidhi got into a soup over his statement about Sanatana Dharma, this writer could not suppress a sense of pity for this future aspirant to the top job in his state.
The man seems hell-bent on committing hara kiri even before he gets a chance to succeed his father some time in the not-too-distant future.
Among other things, Stalin’s 45-year-old son said that Sanatana Dharma, a phrase most people associate with Hinduism, cannot just be opposed, but must be . He likened it to a disease like malaria or dengue or corona.
The he faced from members of his own INDIA formation, and the invective he faced from Hindus, should have been anticipated.
He belatedly shifted the goalposts to suggest that he was against caste-based discrimination and not Hindus per se, and that he never talked about a genocide of Hindus, is an indirect acknowledgement of the political misjudgment he has made.
The fact that at least some parts of his speech on Sanatana Dharma were read out from a written text suggests that his statement was deliberate.
Which again should prompt us to ask: why did he do so? Why does a man whose mother Durga is a temple-going person (she was to only recently) need to make such provocative statements?
Here is my assessment.
First, in order to gain traction with a hardcore group of rabidly Hinduphobic Dravidianists and Periyarists, it is almost a rite of political passage to speak of Hinduism in insulting terms.
The intellectual mentor of Dravidian ideology, which believes in the racist Aryan invasion theory, is EV Ramasamy Naicker, who took his anti-casteism movement to the far extremes of genocidal Brahmin hatred. If you want to learn more about the narrow visions of Periyarism, you can get a flavour of it .
If Udhayanidhi needs to obtain the backing of these rabid elements, and who are often supported by aggressive Tamil evangelical movements and Islamism, he has to say something anti-Hindu.
This implies that his own place as successor to M K Stalin is uncertain, and he has to push himself forward with extreme statements. But Tamil Nadu may be about to change, as suggest.
Tamil Nadu may be ready to look at alternatives to Dravidian parties, and Udhayanidhi’s foray into the same old swamp of anti-Hindu bigotry may be ill-timed.
Second, his statement — and subsequent clarifications — shows that he is both linguistically and logically challenged.
He was speaking in Tamil, his mother tongue, which means he could have sought to differentiate between casteism and the religion associated with it. But he went ahead and talked only about Sanatana Dharma, not caste.
The fact is there is no religion on earth which does not have negative aspects, and the descent of caste into a kind of hierarchical and oppressive structure is a Hindu failure.
But to reduce Hinduism to just caste-based oppression is doing it a huge disservice, which is what the Dravidianists would like to do, much to the delight of missionary religions.
There are strong, oppressive elements in the religious texts of Christianity and Islam too, but Udhayanidhi cannot dare talk about them.
But even on caste, it is not as if a Dravidian-ruled Tamil Nadu (Dravidian parties have been in power since 1967) is a haven of social justice and equality.
The truth is quite different, as these stories about caste-based mobilisation and discrimination show , , and .
The Dravidian themesong of ending inequality starts and ends with upper caste hatred, especially Brahmin hatred. And this hatred is often expressed in anti-Hindu rants in a state which is known for its Hindu history and glorious Hindu temples, and where over 85 per cent of the people are Hindus.
Udhayanidhi is not stupid enough to not understand this, but he still chooses to do what he did. He is a poor politician if he cannot read tea leaves in his own garden. He is hastening the decline of his own party.
Third, it is easy to call Hindutva elements, or even the upper castes, as fascist and undemocratic, but the irony of his own surname — Stalin —seems to have escaped him.
In seeking the “eradication” of Hinduism, Udhayanidhi has effectively combined Nazism and Stalinism, the former being about genocidal anti-Semitism, and the latter about mass killings of one's own people in the name of equality, progress and the consolidation of proletariat power.
While one may forgive Karunanidhi for naming his son Stalin in 1953, when the horrors of Stalin’s crimes against his own people were not known fully in India, by now his grandson should have learnt that this legacy of genocide is what the world remembers about him.
His statement on Sanatana Dharma, which reeks of what the Nazis were saying about Jews, combines both Nazi bigotry and Stalin’s murderous progressivism into one dangerous ideology.
That Udhayanidhi made the statement while addressing a conference organised by the tells its own story.
In Communist history, progressive often means intolerance for diversity and can include genocide. You cannot be progressive if you do not want to destroy something that does not belong to you.
The need to build a constituency among Dravidian bigots and “progressives” is what is driving Udhayanidhi’s politics. One wonders whether he knows the damage he is doing to his own party’s future, his state’s progress and India’s unity and integrity. Here one means both India and the opposition formation called INDIA.
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