Shortly after the Supreme Court’s historic ruling on Article 376, DMK MP M. Mohammed Abdulla quoted the ideology of EV Ramaswamy Naicker, commonly known as Periyar, to express his support for the right of every race to self-determination. This stance has presented a conundrum for the I.N.D.I. Alliance, raising questions about its cohesion and alignment on critical national issues.
The recent electoral setbacks for the DMK and its allies in the five-state assembly elections have been attributed, in part, to the controversial remarks made by leaders such as Udhaya Nidhi Stalin, A Raja, and others. The alliance’s perceived anti-Hindu stance, influenced by the ideologies of leaders like Periyar, has faced criticism and is considered a factor in the electoral outcomes.
Amid nationwide celebrations following the Supreme Court’s verdict on Article 370 and 35A, DMK MP M. Mohammed Abdulla’s remarks in the Parliament invoked Periyar’s ideology and advocated for the right to self-determination, specifically mentioning the Kashmiri people. Abdulla proposed establishing an independent commission to investigate human rights violations in Kashmir.
However, Abdulla’s statements drew immediate criticism from sitting Congress members in the Parliament. Chairman of the House, Jagdeep Dhankar, intervened, expressing disapproval of the remarks and halting Abdulla’s speech. Dhankar asserted that the DMK MP was abusing the platform and had crossed the line. He questioned whether the house could subscribe to remarks that went against the very essence of the Constitution. Emphasizing the responsibility that accompanies freedom of speech, Dhankar announced that the remarks would be expunged from the record.
The controversial remarks have stirred debates not only within the Parliament but also within the I.N.D.I. Alliance. The alliance, comprising various regional parties, has often grappled with ideological differences. Abdulla’s statement, echoing Periyar’s views, has exposed divisions within the alliance, with some members concerned about the potential fallout and its impact on national unity.
— Dr.SG Suryah (@SuryahSG) December 11, 2023
Abdulla, quoting the ideologies of EV Ramasamy Naicker (Periyar), advocated for the right of every race to “self-determination,” particularly emphasising Kashmir’s alleged entitlement to such a right. The Chairman of the House, expressing concern over the appropriateness of Abdulla’s remarks, expunged the observations, citing potential violations of the Constitution.
“The Chairman of the House said, ‘Can we believe in the Constitution with such kind of observations? It will be deleted. Your observations are expunged. Hon’ble Member, you’re abusing the platform,'” reads an excerpt from the proceedings.
Undeterred by the expunction, Abdulla persisted in reiterating the same quote by EV Ramasamy Naicker, emphasizing Kashmir’s supposed right to “self-determination.” The use of this language, often associated with separatist sentiments seeking secession from India, added fuel to the controversy.
When Mallikarjun Kharge, the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, attempted to defend Abdulla’s remarks by stating that Abdulla was merely quoting Ramasamy and one may or may not agree with it, the Chairman firmly rejected this explanation. The Chairman emphasised that Abdulla was affirmatively quoting the statement, drawing sustenance from it, and declared such a stance unacceptable within the parliamentary setting.
Home Minister Amit Shah and Minister Piyush Goel seized the opportunity to question whether the Congress party subscribed to Abdulla’s statement. This inquiry came after attempts by Kharge and other Congress MPs to defend Abdulla’s position. The exchange underscored the divisive nature of the statement and its potential implications on the political discourse surrounding Kashmir.
#WATCH | In Rajya Sabha, Union Home Minister Amit Shah says "Tiruchi Siva (DMK MP) should make it clear if he is speaking on DMK's agenda to bring back Article 370 or is it the agenda of the entire INDI alliance…" pic.twitter.com/20C9XtGLCq
— ANI (@ANI) December 11, 2023
DMK MP M. Mohammed Abdulla’s advocacy for the right to “self-determination” for Kashmir, quoting EV Ramasamy Naicker (Periyar), faced sharp criticism within the Rajya Sabha. Abdulla’s comments led to a heated exchange, resulting in the expunction of his remarks, with the Chairman expressing concerns over potential violations of the Constitution.
Notably, Abdulla continued to emphasise the alleged entitlement of Kashmir to “self-determination” even after the expunction, drawing attention to the divisive nature of the statement. Home Minister Amit Shah and Minister Piyush Goel sought clarification from the Congress, asking if they subscribed to Abdulla’s position.
DMK MP Tiruchi Siva added fuel to the controversy by stating that if the I.N.D.I. Alliance were to come to power, it would seek to restore Article 370. These statements have reignited discussions about the party’s approach to key national issues.
Abdulla’s track record includes instances of controversial and derogatory remarks. In March 2022, he engaged in an abusive tirade against individuals critical of the DMK IT wing. Abdulla’s response to criticism involved making offensive remarks against a woman journalist, showcasing a pattern of disrespectful behavior.
Furthermore, Abdulla had previously used social media to indirectly target actress Kasthuri Shankar and her family, raising concerns about the language employed by the DMK MP.
DMK MP Senthil Kumar, in a recent parliamentary session, sparked outrage by suggesting that the BJP’s power was limited to winning elections in Hindi-speaking states, making derogatory remarks about the “Gau mutra states.” While he later issued an apology on his social media page, the incident added to the string of controversial statements by DMK members.
In August of the same year, Tamil Nadu Public Works Minister EV Velu made statements implying a regional-centric outlook, claiming that once upon a time, the term “India” had minimal impact on them, emphasising the focus on Tamil Nadu. This sentiment suggested a historical inclination towards the idea of a separate Dravida Nadu.
As the nation grapples with the implications of the Supreme Court’s verdict and subsequent parliamentary discussions, the I.N.D.I. Alliance finds itself navigating the complex terrain of diverse opinions within its ranks, with the DMK’s stance posing challenges to the alliance’s collective image and political standing.