Udhayanidhi Stalin today brushed off an alleged threat to his life, declaring he is the grandson of man who put his life on the line for Tamil Nadu and was “not worried about these threats”. A seer in Uttar Pradesh has apparently announced a 10-crore bounty on the head of the sports minister amid the massive backlash sparked by his comments on “Sanatana Dharma”.
“I will pay Rs 10 crore cash reward to anyone who beheads Stalin and brings his head to me. If no one dares to kill Stalin, I will myself find him and kill him,” Paramhans Acharya, the chief priest of the Tapaswi Chawni temple of Ayodhya, was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.
Speaking at an event in Chennai, Mr Udhayanidhi Stalin said Paramahansa Acharya in Uttar Pradesh, has announced that “he would give me Rs 10 crore to shave my head for talking about Sanatana (Dharma)”.
“A 10-rupee comb is enough to comb my head,” he said, making light of the threat. In Tamil, the word for chop or slice also means combing hair.
“This is not new to us. We are not the ones who are afraid of all these threats. I am the grandson of the artist who put his head on the rail track for Tamil,” said Mr Stalin, who is the son of Chief Minister MK Stalin and grandson of M Karunanidhi, one of the state’s iconic leaders.
A five-time Chief Minister, Karunanidhi had led the rationalist and anti-Brahmin Dravidian movement started by Periyar.
The incident Mr Stalin referred to was in 1953 and marked the rise of Karunanidhi in Tamil politics. To protest against the renaming of a village after the industrialist family of Dalmias, who were building a cement factory there, DMK workers, led by Karunanidhi, lay down on the tracks to register their protest.
Over the weekend, Karunanidhi’s grandson triggered controversy with a speech at an event. “Sanatana (Dharma) is like malaria and dengue and so it must be eradicated and not opposed,” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The comment set off an uproar, with the BJP declaring that it was equivalent to “a call for genocide”. It has also put the new Opposition Bloc INDIA in a dilemma ahead of a series of state polls and general elections next year. While Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party and Trinamool Congress have thumbs downed the comment, the Congress has taken a nuanced stand. Other senior leaders from key parties have maintained silence.
Today, Mr Udhayanidhi Stalin doubled down on his remarks. Calling the BJP allegation “fake news”, the minister said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi talks of Congress mukt bharat. Does it mean murder of Congress members?”.
“We talk about a principle. What’s Sanatana Dharma first of all? It is explained as eternal, permanent and unchanging. Our Dravidian model is about change in everything… Some years ago, they said women should not study. Many years ago it was said women should not cover their upper body and that they shouldn’t enter temples. We have changed everything. This is Dravidian model,” he added.
Founded on the rationalist principles of Periyar, the DMK for decades has opposed Sanatana Dharma and has often reaped rich political dividends.
They argue that for generations, large populations were oppressed by practitioners of Sanatana Dharma on casteist lines, denying them equality, education and even entry into places of worship, besides several other forms cruelty against women including Sati.