Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK president M K Stalin has defended his minister son Udayanidhi amid the heated debate on his 'Sanatan Dharma' remark. He claimed that Udhayanidhi commented on the "inhuman principles" of Sanatan that discriminate against Scheduled Castes, tribals and women.
He added that his son had no intention to offend any religion or religious beliefs.
Amid the row, Tamil Nadu BJP dared the Dravidian party to fight the 2024 Lok Sabha polls on the plank of Sanatan Dharma.
Taking a dig at the BJP, Stalin alleged the saffron party is upping the ante over the issue in its attempt to drive a wedge between partners of the INDIA alliance.
Both the father and son took their Santan fight to Prime Minister Narendra Modi following his call to defend Sanatan Dharma.
In a sharp reaction, Tamil Nadu BJP President K Annamalai dared the DMK leadership to face the 2024 polls on the plank of Sanatan Dharma.
"The coming election (LS polls) we have challenged you, let us fight on Sanatan Dharma. Let DMK say it is going to abolish Sanatan Dharma. We will say we will protect and preserve Sanatan Dharma." He blamed the DMK of blowing hot and cold over the issue during the past many years.
Stalin alleged it is not the BJP's interest over Sanatan Dharma but a political calculation aimed at somehow creating cracks in the INDIA alliance, which has shaken Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Another DMK leader triggers fresh controversy
While the issue has already been raging, DMK Deputy General Secretary and Lok Sabha MP Raja likened Sanatan Dharma to disease like leprosy that had social stigma.
"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," Raja said.
"Udhayanidhi's comments were mild and soft and if you ask me I will talk tough."
Udhayanidhi says BJP twisted his remark
An unfazed Udhayanidhi blamed Modi and his party leaders for using Sanatan as a ploy to divert attention and reiterated that the BJP twisted his remark as if he incited genocide.
He said: "What is surprising is the Ministers of the Union government like Amit Shah and Chief Minister of States ruled by the BJP are demanding action against me based on fake news."
In all fairness, Udhayanidhi said he should be filing criminal cases against them for spreading slander.
The TN minister maintained that his party respected all religions that taught equality and "we are not enemies of any religion." For the last 9 years, "Modi has been doing nothing," Udhayanidhi claimed and described Modi as "Union Prime Minister Thiru Modi."
The state minister targeted Modi over covid PM Cares fund and questions following the CAG report and Manipur violence.
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.
Further, the CM said the "One nation, one election," pitch is a gimmick and it is the Saffron party that is afraid of Parliamentary polls and not the INDIA combine.
Udhayanidhi thanked the organisers of the September 2 Chennai conference "for making Santana Dharma and the cause it espouses a talking point at the national level." He reiterated that he would face legally the cases filed against him.
TN BJP president terms DMK as 'Dengue Malaria Kosu'
Tamil Nadu BJP president Annamalai also termed the DMK as Dengue Malaria Kosu (mosquito) that needs to be 'eradicated.'
"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.
He dubbed the ruling DMK a casteist party that must be decimated and questioned its track record on Dalit empowerment.
BJP demands governor's intervention
Meanwhile, a delegation of BJP leaders met state Governor RN Ravi and submitted memorandums against Udhayanidhi and his cabinet colleague PK Sekar Babu, who holds the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) portfolio.
"We sought the intervention of our Hon Governor in filing cases (in line with the Hon Supreme Court's guidelines) in TN against Thiru Udhayanidhi Stalin for his hate speech at the Sanatana Eradication conference," Annamalai said on X.
The party also sought for the dismissal of Sekar Babu for being a part of the Sanatana eradication conference, "which is a violation of his oath to office."
Wading into the controversy, Makkal Needhi Maiam founder and actor Kamal Haasan said: "@Udhaystalin is entitled to his views on Sanatana."
"If you disagree with his viewpoint, it is important to engage in a discussion based on the merits of Sanatana instead of resorting to threats of violence or legal intimidation tactics, or distorting his words to evoke emotional responses for narrow political gains."
(with PTI inputs)