Chennai | A war of words has erupted between AIADMK leaders and BJP Tamil Nadu President K Annamalai over his recent remark on Dravidian stalwart and late Chief Minister C N Annadurai.
AIADMK senior leader C Ve Shanmugam said Annamalai has deliberately "insulted" Anna, and questioned the BJP leader on his experience in the world of politics and his knowledge of Anna's life and times.
DMK founder Annadurai (1909-1969) is popularly known as Anna (elder brother).
On September 11, leading a demonstration against Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Minister P K Sekar Babu for his participation in the 'Sanatana Dharma' eradication conference here, Annamalai had made a comment on Annadurai.
The BJP leader said Anna had in the 1950s made a critical remark in Madurai against the Hindu faith at an event, and that it was staunchly opposed by freedom fighter Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar.
Shanmugam said there is no basis or proof for what Annamalai has claimed and that the BJP leader has no locus standi to comment on Anna.
Former ministers and AIADMK leaders D Jayakumar and Sellur K Raju also had strongly opposed Annamalai's remark. It was against civility to speak ill of departed leaders, they had said.
Speaking to reporters in Coimbatore on Sunday, Annamalai asked if what he had said about Anna was wrong. He asserted that he is in politics to protect Sanatana Dharma and Tamil culture.
He insisted that he did not speak ill of Anna and had only mentioned an event from the pages of history and the manner in which Muthuramalinga Thevar had defended Sanatana Dharma.
To substantiate his claim, the BJP leader said, he had copies of news
reports that appeared in the month of June in 1956 in a top national English daily.
"Anyone may read. It was a 10-day Tamil Sangam event."
The Saffron party leader asked if he could not stand in defence of 'Sanatana Dharma' what use was there in him holding the position of state unit chief of the BJP.
"Look at history as history. I am very clear. Nowhere will I belittle anyone. I did not insult or underestimate anyone, anywhere; history should be spoken as it was and if it is not liked (by some people), it's okay."
Shanmugam, a former minister said as Annamalai has criticised the Dravidian icon even while the AIADMK and BJP is in alliance, it has led to a suspicion that he may have an ulterior motive, and wondered out loud whether Annamalai, by "joining hands with the DMK," does not want the NDA to win the Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu.
"The goal is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should become the PM yet again and to see to it, winning 39 seats in Tamil Nadu and one segment in Puducherry is important. The saffron party's national leadership realises that it is not possible without the AIADMK's support," he said.
"Annamalai does not think about seeing the NDA win polls in TN and witnessing PM Modi assume the office of Prime Minister again. The TN BJP chief should be speaking in support of the AIADMK-BJP alliance. In contrast, rather than criticising the DMK, he is targeting the AIADMK which is an ally of the BJP," he added.
"What is your motive?" he questioned Annamalai and underlined that the BJP leader has criticised Anna and months ago also targeted late AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa.
Annamalai is functioning by "violating" the principles of coalition dharma and the BJP brass should monitor his activities, Shanmugam said.
"Otherwise, Annamalai, the loss is not for us," he said, seeking to convey the message directly to the TN BJP chief.
Giving a "final warning", he asked Annamalai to desist from insulting leaders, and blamed him for trying to become relevant in politics by levelling allegations against towering personalities.
Taking a swipe against Annamalai's padayatra, he said it is not known if it is a foot march or a "collection" (of funds) march. Since 1967, the Dravidian movement founded by Anna has driven away the national parties from Tamil Nadu's political landscape, Shanmugam said.
The BJP's leadership, be it Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah or party chief J P Nadda are all aware of the AIADMK's stature, the largest party in the NDA alliance, apart from the saffron party, he said.
However, Shanmugam asked whether Annamalai was not aware of this fact.
On Shanmugam's caustic remark about his padayatra, Annamalai said that those who had been ministers and had indulged in "collection" viewed everything including a padayatra as aimed at collection. "Ours is honest politics."
Referring to the turnout in his padayatra, Annamalai without naming Shanmugam said the leader was jealous of the BJP's growth and some leaders may need a decade to understand that "field politics' has changed.
The BJP is a party with self-respect and though the alliance with the AIADMK is important, there is no need to fall at the feet of anyone.
Anna's name is the distinguishing feature of AIADMK's name, which stands for All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.
Tamil Nadu's ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) was founded in 1949 by Annadurai and he steered his party to power in 1967. He passed away in 1969 while helming the state as its Chief Minister.
The AIADMK was founded in 1972 by M G Ramachandran after quitting the DMK. MGR had great reverence for Annadurai and he named the party after him.