In a recent development within the I.N.D.I. Alliance, MDMK, another alliance partner, has expressed support for the controversial remarks made by Dharmapuri DMK MP Senthil Kumar. The MP’s comments, delivered during a discussion on the outcomes of the five recent state assembly polls in Lok Sabha, have ignited a nationwide controversy.
#WATCH | Winter Session of Parliament | DMK MP DNV Senthilkumar S says "…The people of this country should think that the power of this BJP is only winning elections mainly in the heartland states of Hindi, what we generally call the 'Gaumutra' states…" pic.twitter.com/i37gx9aXyI
— ANI (@ANI) December 5, 2023
Senthil Kumar asserted, “People of this country should think that the power of this BJP is only winning elections, mainly in the heartland states of Hindi, or what we generally call the ‘Gaumutra states’. You cannot come to South India. You see all the results of what happens in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra, and Telangana.” Notably, he seemed unaware of the BJP’s earlier victory in Karnataka.
The divisive and inflammatory nature of Kumar’s statements, particularly targeting North Indians, has sparked outrage across the nation. When reporters sought a response from MDMK Chief Vaiko, he not only endorsed Senthil Kumar’s remarks but also added fuel to the controversy by expressing full agreement.
“I agree with him,” affirmed Vaiko when pressed about his stance on the comments. When specifically asked about the derogatory nature of Senthil Kumar’s remarks, Vaiko reiterated, “Yes, yes, he is correct.”
— ANI (@ANI) December 5, 2023
The controversy gained momentum, prompting the DMK president and Chief Minister M K Stalin to intervene. Stalin reportedly directed Senthil Kumar to issue an apology, acknowledging that the choice of words was inappropriate. Subsequently, Senthil Kumar apologised, stating, “Commenting on the results of the five recent state assembly elections, I have used a word in an inappropriate way. Not using that term with any intent, I apologise for sending the wrong meaning across.”
Apology from MP Senthilkumar: Withdraws Controversial 'Gaumutra' Remark, Requests Expunging from Records|#SenthilKumar | #Gaumutra | #DMK | #TamilNadu | #Parliamentwintersession | #ParliamentSession | #TrendingReels pic.twitter.com/aHxPsnSeGg
— Republic (@republic) December 6, 2023
Meanwhile, the Congress party, a key political player, distanced itself from the disparaging remarks. Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Choudry clarified, “We all respect ‘gau mata’ as the mother. What has been said is an individual statement, and we have nothing to do with what he said inside Parliament. It is his personal view, and we do not have anything to say on this.” Congress MP Karthik Chidambaram demanded an apology from Senthil Kumar, characterising his choice of words as “unfortunate.” Former Congress MP Miland Deora expressed his dismay, stating, “Very unfortunate to witness an Indian MP making derogatory statements against Gau Mutura and Sana Tana dharma culture revered by over one billion Indians. Many, including myself, consider ourselves Sana Tanis.”
In a recent series of controversial statements from leaders of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party, Sports and Youth Welfare Minister Udhaya Nidhi Stalin and DMK MP A Raja sparked a fresh wave of criticism. Minister Udhaya Nidhi Stalin had remarked, “Sana Tana dharmas have to be destroyed like Dengue, Malaria, and Covid-19,” while MP A Raja went further, likening Sana Tana Dharma to AIDS and Leprosy, stating that it should be eradicated with vigor.
These remarks had not only stirred controversy but have also led to internal concerns within the I.N.D.I. Alliance, with some leaders attributing the Congress party’s poor performance in the northern belt to the perceived anti-Hindu stance of DMK scion Udhaya Nidhi Stalin.
This is not the first instance of inflammatory comments from DMK leaders. DMK MP Senthil Kumar, known for his controversial statements, made headlines in July last year during a bhoomi puja function for desilting. He questioned the presence of a saffron-robed Hindu priest, demanding inclusivity by inviting representatives from other religions, including Christian, Muslim, atheist, and Dravidar Kazhagam communities. Kumar expressed his disapproval of government functions being conducted with a focus on one particular religion.
ஒரு அளவுக்கு மேல் என் பொறுமையை சோதிக்கிறார்கள்.
Trying to Keep my cool.
At times they make me to lose my patience. pic.twitter.com/l1gHdhYkQa
— Dr.Senthilkumar.S (@DrSenthil_MDRD) July 16, 2022
In a similar incident in September of the same year, during a Bhoomi Pooja ceremony for a government-funded library building in his constituency, Kumar reportedly kicked sacred bricks smeared with vermilion and turmeric paste. He not only rejected Hindu traditions but also berated his own party cadres for organising the Bhoomi Pooja.
These repeated instances of divisive rhetoric and actions have raised concerns about the DMK’s approach towards religious inclusivity and its potential impact on the alliance’s political standing. As these controversies unfold, the statements from DMK leaders continue to draw scrutiny and contribute to the ongoing discourse on religious sensitivity in political discourse.
Dharmapuri DMK MP Senthilkumar, known for his vocal and contentious speeches on Hinduism, delivered a particularly provocative address earlier this year at a Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam event titled “Ithu Tamil Nadu, Ilaya Thalaimuraiyin Maanila Yecharikai Maanadu” (“This is Tamil Nadu, A Warning Meeting Of Young Generation”). In his speech, he made strong statements regarding the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the broader Sanatana Dharma ideology.
Senthilkumar highlighted a quote attributed to Golwalkar, a second-rung leader of RSS, alleging that Muslims, Christians, communists, atheists, and intellectuals are considered enemies by RSS. He accused the RSS of opposing the Indian constitution drafted by B.R. Ambedkar and striving to transform India into a Hindu Rashtra. He emphasised the BJP’s alleged efforts, under the leadership of Narendra Modi, to oppress Christians, Muslims, and intellectuals while pursuing a Hindu Rashtra.
Addressing a specific incident at JNU University, Senthilkumar accused the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) of attacking Tamil students and vandalising photographs of Periyar and Ambedkar. He claimed that despite such attacks, they stood by the victims, ensuring that a larger picture of Periyar was reinstated in the same location.
The MP criticised ABVP, labelling its members as “rowdies” who resort to violence when unable to win arguments. He alleged that ABVP opposed wearing Pardah to establish Sanatana Dharma. Senthilkumar delved into historical aspects, praising the Justice Party founded by Nair, Sir P.T. Thiyagarayar, and Natesanar for fighting against Brahmins, who held a disproportionate share of government jobs. He attributed the present reservation system to the Non-Brahmin Manifesto they introduced.
Adding fuel to the controversy, Senthilkumar raised provocative questions about Hindu deities, particularly Lord Krishna and Lord Rama. He compared Lord Krishna’s actions to criminal behavior and questioned the construction of a bridge by Lord Rama, contrasting it with Ravana’s arrival in India without building bridges. He suggested that, in the context of contemporary laws, Lord Krishna could be arrested for eve-teasing.
Furthermore, Senthilkumar criticised certain practises in Sanatana Dharma, such as Sati, highlighting the need for continued efforts to eradicate elements of the caste Varnashrama system. He identified “Sanatana forces” as the primary adversaries in the current political landscape, encompassing unchangeable elements like caste, women’s oppression, and Varnashrama Dharmam.
This inflammatory speech by the DMK MP has stirred controversy and raised concerns about the party’s approach towards Hinduism, as well as its potential impact on religious sentiments in the region. The remarks have ignited discussions on the fine line between political critique and provocative statements targeting religious beliefs.