CHENNAI, Sep 7: Adding fuel to the raging debate over DMK leader Udhayanidhi Stalin’s remarks against Sanatan Dharma, the party’s Lok Sabha MP A Raja has likened it to diseases like leprosy and HIV which had social stigma, prompting the BJP to accuse opposition leaders of suffering from “deep-rooted Hinduphobia”.
As the row over Raja and Stalin junior’s remarks snowballed into a major political row on Thursday, the Congress sought to distance itself from their statements while Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin accused the BJP of being ‘desperate’ to create divisions in the INDIA opposition bloc.
Raja, a former union minister, defended Udhayanidhi, saying his remarks were “mild and soft.”
“If Sanatan Dharma should be commented in disgusting terms; once upon a time the leprosy and recently the HIV had stigma and as far as we are concerned, it (Sanatan) should be regarded like HIV and leprosy that had social stigma,” the DMK’s Deputy General Secretary said at a public event in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.
“Udhayanidhi’s comments were mild and soft and if you ask me I will talk tough.”
Under intense attack, Udhayanidhi accused the BJP leaders of “twisting” his statements made at a writers’ conference in Chennai last week over the issue.
The DMK Youth Wing chief, who is the state minister for Youth Welfare and Sports Development, vowed to face all cases in this connection legally.
In a strong response to Raja’s remarks, BJP leader and union minister Dharmendra Pradhan called the comments as “outrageous and vitriolic” and slammed the opposition parties for their “mental bankruptcy” and “deep-rooted Hinduphobia”.
Senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad charged the Congress’ top leadership with maintaining “silence” over controversial remarks about Hindu faith made by some of its own leaders and those of its Tamil Nadu ally DMK.
Addressing a press conference in Patna, Prasad asked whether “a decision was taken to denigrate Hindus” at the recently held meeting of the opposition coalition INDIA in Mumbai.
Referring to Udhayanidhi’s likening of ‘Sanatana Dharma’ to malaria and dengue and the DMK leader’s remark that it should be eradicated, Prasad said, “Now another DMK leader A Raja has compared the Hindu faith to leprosy and HIV/AIDS”.
Asserting that the BJP will “never accept such denigration of the Hindu faith”, Prasad said “the silence of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the movers and shakers of the Congress, baffles the people”
Union minister Pradhan, in a post on X, said “Changing name does not conceal one’s intent and character.”
“Outrageous and vitriolic comments about Sanatan Dharma, this time by … A Raja, reflect the mental bankruptcy and deep-rooted Hinduphobia that engulfs the I.N.D.I.A bloc,” he noted.
Stoutly defending Sanatan Dharma, Tamil Nadu BJP President K Annamalai dubbed the ruling DMK as a casteist party that must be decimated and questioned its track record on Dalit empowerment.
“If something needs eradication from Tamil Nadu, it is the DMK. D – Dengue, M – Malaria K – Kosu (mosquito). Going forward, we are sure that people will associate these deadly diseases with DMK,” he said posting a video on X.
Distancing itself, the Congress said it did not agree with the remarks of DMK leaders Udhayanidhi Stalin and A Raja on Sanatan Dharma and asserted the party believed in “sarvadharma sambhav” (equal respect to all religions).
The principal opposition party also asserted that every single member of the INDIA alliance has immense respect for all faiths, communities and beliefs.
“The Congress has always believed in ‘sarvadharma sambhav’ wherein every religion, every faith has its space. No one can treat any particular faith as less than another faith.”
“Neither the Constitution allows this nor the Indian National Congress believes in any of these comments,” Congress’ media and publicity department head Pawan Khera told a press conference at the AICC headquarters in Delhi.
Pressed further on why the Congress has not condemned the remarks, Khera said, “I just said we do not agree with such comments.”
Asked if the Congress would raise the matter with its key ally DMK, Khera said there is no need to raise these issues because “we know for a fact that each one of our constituents also respects every religion”.
Amid the raging row, Chief minister M K Stalin said his son had expressed certain comments about the “inhuman principles” preached in Sanatan Dharma and accused the BJP of being ‘desperate’ to create division in the mega opposition bloc, the INDIA alliance.
Pro-BJP forces, unable to tolerate Udhayanidhi’s stance against oppressive principles, have spread a false narrative, alleging he called for the genocide of people with Sanatan thoughts, Stalin said in a statement.
“Udhayanidhi Stalin expressed certain comments about inhuman principles preached by Sanatan. He expressed his views on Sanatan principles that discriminate against Scheduled Castes, tribals and women, with no intention to offend any religion or religious beliefs,” he said.
“It is disheartening to hear from the national media that the Prime Minister mentioned that Udhayanidhi’s remarks need a proper response during a meeting of his council of ministers. The Prime Minister has access to all the resources to verify any claim or report. So, is the Prime Minister speaking unaware of the lies spread about Udhayanidhi, or does he do so knowingly?” Stalin, president of the ruling DMK, asked.
“As far as the DMK is concerned, our ideals and goals are transparent and clear. We operate under the motto of One clan, One god and happiness of the poor,” he said, adding that is why the people of Tamil Nadu have entrusted the DMK with the responsibility of ruling the state for the sixth time.
Wading into the political row, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde targeted the Opposition alliance, saying its members stand exposed due to their silence on Udhayanidhi’s anti-Sanatan Dharma remarks.
“Let any number of Stalins come, they cannot eradicate Sanatan Dharma,” Shinde said, talking to the media in Thane after attending Dahi Handi (Janmashtami) celebrations.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan while reciting ‘yada yada hi dharmasya’ shloka from the Mahabharata, said, “Those opposing Sanatan Dharma their political end is certain. There is no beginning or end of Sanatan Dharma.”
Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said the view that Sanatan Dharma should be eradicated exposes the real face of the INDIA alliance.
“The way INDIA alliance is commenting on the Sanatan Dharma is totally wrong and highly condemnable…Any amount of condemnation is not enough. They are saying that Sanatan Dharma should cease to exist and it should end,” he told reporters in Gwalior. (PTI)
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