Days before the inauguration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin's son, Udhayanidhi Stalin said that his party was not opposed to the temple coming up in Ayodhya but against a temple being constructed after demolishing a mosque.
While the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) wasn't expected to support the Ram Temple anyway, the statement shows that Udhayanidhi was monkey-balancing on the issue. He was trying to show himself as not anti-Hindu while also being loyal to his support base — Dravidianists and voters of the minority community.
Why the need to show that he is not anti-Hindu, and why can’t he fully support the Ram Mandir, you may ask.
Well the answer to that is the immense backlash he received for his earlier remarks, calling for the eradication of Sanatana Dharma by comparing it to diseases like dengue and malaria and his party’s stance on Lord Ram.
The DMK defended his remarks, arguing that 'Sanatana Dharma' referred to issues like caste discrimination, and not the Hindu religion.
INDI Alliance partners, including the Trinamool Congress, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), and the Shiv Sena, distanced themselves or condemned the comments.
Despite that, the remarks reportedly impacted the alliance during the last round of assembly elections.
On the other hand, questioning the existence of Lord Ram and the belief that he constructed the Ram Setu, connecting India and Sri Lanka, Udhayanidhi’s grandfather, M Karunanidhi had once asked "Who is Raman? Ram is a lie. In which engineering college did he study and is there proof that he constructed a bridge?"
Dravidian ideologue E V Ramasamy, was once arrested in order to prevent him from leading his followers to burn pictures of Lord Ram. He had portrayed Ravan as a hero and his followers had even organised Ravan Leelas in response to Ram Leelas.
By saying what he did regarding the 22 January event, Udhayanidhi finds himself in the same boat as the Congress, which is also trying to portray that it is not anti-Hindu inspite of deciding not to attend the consecration ceremony.
While the Congress party has stated that its leaders like Sonia Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury would skip the inauguration because it is an 'RSS-BJP' event, there are a number of contradictory voices in the party, like senior leader Karan Singh and former Gujarat Congress chief, Arjun Modhwadhia, who have expressed their unhappiness.
For a vast majority of Hindus, it does not matter if it is an RSS-BJP event or if the structure erected in the 1500s was demolished, what matters to them is that Lord Ram's temple is finally back at his janmabhoomi.
Udhayanidhi’s monkey-balancing thus, may not work for him or the DMK, just like it is not working out for the Congress.
S Rajesh is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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