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BJP on offensive after PM Sanatan Dharma nudge, DMK tries to lower heat, Cong distances itself | Political Pulse News

BJP on offensive after PM Sanatan Dharma nudge, DMK tries to lower heat, Cong distances itself | Political Pulse News

A DAY after Prime Minister Narendra Modi told his ministers to strongly refute comments by Opposition leaders on Sanatan DharmaDMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin stepped in to suggest that the BJP may have misinterpreted his son’s statement, while ally Congress sought to put distance between its and Udhayanidhi Stalin’s views.

Udhayanidhi too indicated a moderation, releasing a statement on Thursday where he stood by his remarks but suggested he did not want to escalate the issue further, as he appealed to DMK cadres to not file counter-FIRs against those attacking him.

In his first remarks on the row, Stalin said Udhayanidhi’s criticism was directed at the inhumane practices that had become a part of Sanatan Dharma, and not the religion itself. “He (Udhayanidhi) expressed his views on Sanatan principles that discriminate against Scheduled Castes, tribals and women, with no intention to offend any religion or belief,” the DMK chief said.

A top DMK leader, requesting anonymity, told The Indian Express that the party does not want the issue to be dragged on, particularly when it gives the BJP a chance to play on the differences within INDIA ranks. While Udhayanidhi’s criticism of Sanatan Dharma is in line with the DMK’s Dravidian, anti-organised religion politics, an impression that Hinduism was under attack would not go down well in North India.

“Today’s statement is to tell PM Modi that he got the entire issue wrong. Why should PM Modi react to a first-time minister like Udhayanidhi?” the DMK leader said.

However, the DMK’s efforts got diluted to some extent due to remarks made by party MP A Raja on the issue on Wednesday. A Dalit leader and former Union minister, known for his strong stand on Dravidian issues, he said Udhayanidhi’s remarks were “soft” as he had only talked about “eradicating” Sanatan Dharma like dengue or malaria, diseases which do not have social stigma.

“Once upon a time there was leprosy and recently HIV had a stigma (associated with it)… As far as we are concerned, it (Sanatan Dharma) should be regarded as HIV and leprosy,” Raja said.

He added that if PM Modi was such a strong advocate of Sanatan Dharma, he would not have visited foreign countries. “A good Hindu should not cross the seas,” Raja said, repeating his challenge to Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah to join him in a debate on Sanatan Dharma in Delhi in the presence of Shankaracharyas.

At a press conference in Delhi called to mark one year of Bharat Jodo Yatrathe Congress was asked about Udhayanidhi and Raja’s remarks. The party, which initially said that “every political party enjoyed the freedom to hold its views”, said Thursday: “We have very clearly said and we are repeating, that we are not with such comments. The Congress has a history of taking every religion and thought together, and we understand that this country is satrangi (multi-hued). Kisiko kam dikhana, kisiko zyada dikhana, na yeh samvidhan is ki anumati deta hai, na Congress ki aisi koi parampara hai (Showing someone as inferior, another as higher, neither does the Constitution allow this, nor does the Congress have such a tradition). So we are not in agreement with such comments,” Congress media department head Pawan Khera said.

The Congress, he added, believes in “Sarva Dharma Samabhav” or that every religion, every faith has its space.

Asked whether the Congress had raised the issue with the DMK, Khera said: “There is no need because we know for a fact that each one of our (INDIA’s) constituents also respects every religion. If anybody wants to twist remarks, they are free to do so. It suits the Prime Minister… but every single member of the INDIA alliance has immense respect for all faiths, communities, beliefs and religions.”

Several Congress leaders in private said that the party decided to go further than the earlier statement of senior leader K C Venugopal – on the freedom of parties to hold their views – as it was felt that the party could not be seen “in agreement” with remarks such as made by Udhayanidhi.

But while the DMK tried to lower the heat, the BJP indicated it was in no mood to go easy on it or the INDIA alliance on the issue.

“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… Let these hate-mongers be reminded that Sanatan is eternal, Sanatan is truth,” Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan posted on X on Thursday.

Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri called the remarks against Sanatan Dharma “utterly disgusting” and “shameful”, particularly the comparison with diseases. “This kind of permanent brain damage is a possible outcome of when someone bitten by a dengue mosquito takes medicine for HIV… The virus of hate which afflicts some is clearly more dangerous than all the diseases they are coming up with… put together,” Puri said.

In his statement, Stalin drew on historical critiques of Sanatan principles by leaders such as Tamil reformer Periyar, B R Ambedkar and Saint Vallalaar to underscore a long tradition of questioning discrimination rooted in religious teachings. These critiques, Stalin said, were meant to challenge oppressive ideologies, not the entirety of Sanatan beliefs.

The CM regretted that Udhayanidhi’s remarks had been distorted by “pro-BJP forces unable to tolerate his stance against oppressive principles”. “If the troll army of the BJP spreads these lies, responsible Union ministers and state CMs who belong to the BJP should have cared enough to check what Mr Udhayanidhi had actually spoken, before commenting on him.”

Specifically mentioning senior BJP leaders Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh, Stalin added out that while a seer in Ayodhya had put a bounty on Udhayanidhi’s head, the Uttar Pradesh government had not taken action against him, but instead filed cases against Udhayanidhi.

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“In these circumstances,” he added, “it is disheartening to hear from the national media that the PM mentioned that Udhayanidhi’s remarks need a proper response… So, is the Prime Minister unaware of the lies spread about Udhayanidhi, or does he speak so knowingly?”

The CM said RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat too had acknowledged social discrimination’s long history and backed reservations. “If the BJP needs any further explanation regarding what Minister Udhayanidhi spoke about, they should consult Mohan Bhagwat,” Stalin said.

Karnataka CM and Congress leader Siddaramaiah also attacked Modi over his remarks on Udhayanidhi. In a post on X, he said the PM telling his ministers to give “a suitable response” to the Sanatan Dharma remarks was a provocation, adding: “Would like to remind Prime Minister Narendra Modi of ‘raja dharma’.”

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