Dayanidhi Maran, a key figure in the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and a Member of Parliament in the Lok Sabha, has ignited controversy following his recent statement. Maran suggested that individuals with lower education levels from North India are predominantly involved in manual labour, specifically in occupations like toilet cleaning and construction work in Tamil Nadu. The remarks, made during a public address, have triggered debates and criticism, with concerns raised about the reinforcement of regional stereotypes.
Maran’s comments come against the backdrop of ongoing discussions about a perceived north-south divide, with some accusing the DMK government of promoting such divisions to divert attention from other issues. Critics argue that such statements harm national unity and go against the principles of inclusivity.
This is not the first instance of controversial remarks by DMK members. Earlier, Udhayanidhi Stalin, the son of Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, made remarks about “Sanatana Dharma,” and DMK MP Senthil Kumar commented on the dietary habits of people in Nagaland, suggesting a link between dog meat consumption and voting patterns.
BJP national spokesperson Shehzad Jai Hind condemns the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) alliance over the purported insult by DMK leader Dayanidhi Maran towards Hindi-speaking people from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Jai Hind accuses the opposition of playing the “divide and rule” card, citing a series of objectionable comments by DMK members.
Rahul Gandhi insulted North Indian voters
In a video shared by Jai Hind, allegedly featuring Dayanidhi Maran, the DMK leader is heard making divisive comments in Tamil. Maran compares individuals in Tamil Nadu who learn English and work in multinational corporations to those in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar who only learn Hindi and, according to Maran, engage in menial jobs like construction work and toilet cleaning in Tamil Nadu.
This video follows earlier remarks by DMK MP Senthil Kumar and Telangana Chief Minister Revanth Reddy, adding fuel to the ongoing debate about a perceived north-south divide. Jai Hind accuses the DMK of attempting to trigger such regional debates, emphasising that the divisive rhetoric undermines national unity.
The comments by Maran have drawn strong criticism from BJP leaders, with Giriraj Singh, a BJP MP from Bihar, questioning whether the coalition partners Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav agree with the DMK’s opinions on Hindi-speaking people. Singh takes to ‘X’ to express his concerns, urging clarification on why the DMK and I.N.D.I Alliance allegedly harbour “hatred” against Hindi-speaking individuals.
डीएमके सांसद दयानिधि मारन का कहना है कि यूपी/बिहार के हिंदी भाषी लोग तमिलनाडु आते हैं और सड़कें और शौचालय साफ करते हैं।
क्या बिहार के मुख्यमंत्री नीतीश कुमार और लालू यादव हिंदी भाषी लोगों पर अपने गठबंधन सहयोगी की राय से सहमत हैं? उन्हें स्पष्ट करना चाहिए कि DMK और I.N.D.I गठबंधन… pic.twitter.com/yFRCYK7fXi
— Shandilya Giriraj Singh (मोदी का परिवार) (@girirajsinghbjp) December 23, 2023
In a recent I.N.D.I. Alliance meeting in Delhi, DMK leader TR Baalu reportedly sought an English translation when Nitish Kumar began speaking. Kumar’s response, expressing agitation, highlights the linguistic tensions within the alliance. “We call our country Hindustan, and Hindi is our national language. We should know the language,” remarked Nitish Kumar.
In a heated session of the Lok Sabha, DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) Dharmapuri MP Senthil Kumar stirred controversy with remarks that targeted the BJP and its perceived dominance in Hindi-speaking states. While discussing the National Education Policy, Kumar asserted, “People of this country should think that the power of this BJP is only winning elections and mainly in the heartland states of Hindi or what we generally call as the ‘Gau mutra states’. You cannot come to South India.”
Kumar went on to critique the National Education Policy, highlighting that Tamil Nadu has already achieved a Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of 50%, surpassing India’s national GER of approximately 24.6%. He questioned the need for the Central Government to impose the policy on states with successful models like Tamil Nadu.
The DMK MP’s comments didn’t stop at policy critique; he further expressed opposition to the imposition of the National Education Policy and suggested that it should be implemented in the BJP-ruled “Gau mutra states” if the government is keen on its implementation.
This incident is part of a larger trend wherein DMK ministers engage in divisive rhetoric, often emphasising North-South divides and playing on cultural and linguistic sentiments. The DMK and its allies, including Naam Tamizhar Katchi and PMK, have been accused of fostering anti-Brahmin and anti-North sentiments, promoting the idea of “Tamil Nadu for Tamils,” and even demanding a separate Dravida Nadu.
The remarks made by DMK leaders, including the recent comments by Senthil Kumar, have drawn criticism for potentially fueling cultural conflicts, especially in the wake of increased migration of unskilled labourers from North to South India, particularly in cities like Chennai, Tirupur, and Coimbatore.
Critics argue that the trend mirrors historical discrimination against South Indians in the north, as DMK leaders use terms like ‘Vadakkans’ (northerners), ‘Paani Poori wallas,’ Marwaris, migrants, ‘beeda vayan’ (beeda chewers), and ‘pan gutka wallas’ to label those from the north, reflecting a reversal of stereotypes.
Former Rajya Sabha MP and DMK Organising Secretary R S Bharati, in a recent address in Tamil, drew attention to the recent incident involving Nagaland Governor R N Ravi. Bharati commented, “I addressed a gathering about what happened to him in Nagaland; they chased him away. Don’t mistake me; I am just quoting an example. The people of Nagaland eat dog meat. If someone who eats dog meat themselves has so much self-respect that they chased away this governor, and then imagine how much self-respect Tamils, who consume food with salt, would have. The day he was chased away, the people of Nagaland celebrated it like Deepavali.”
This remark adds to a series of statements by DMK leaders that have been criticized for promoting regional stereotypes and fueling divisive sentiments. DMK Finance Minister PTR Palanivel Thiyagarajan, in an interview with Hindustan Times, attributed the BJP’s electoral successes in the “Hindi Belt” to a perceived lack of education among voters. He expressed bewilderment over the consistent re-election of BJP governments in those regions and questioned whether lack of education might be a factor.
Another DMK Minister, K. Ponmudy, who is currently convicted in a DA case, made derogatory comments about Hindi speakers during a convocation ceremony in 2002. He stated, “In Tamil Nadu, there are two languages – English and Tamil. While English is an international language, Tamil is a local language. We were told that learning Hindi would fetch us jobs, did we get (jobs)? You go and see in our state, in Coimbatore, who sells pani puris? They are Hindi speakers.”
Such remarks have fueled accusations that the DMK is exploiting linguistic fault lines to inflame passions and generate animosity towards North Indians. The party has a historical track record of anti-Hindi rhetoric, and this approach has seemingly transformed into a broader resentment against North Indians.
TN Health Minister Ma. Subramanian, in a statement on June 1, 2022, blamed ‘north Indians’ for the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Tamil Nadu. He specifically pointed to students from north India contributing to the spread of the virus in educational institutions in the state. Subramanian cited states like Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh as COVID-19 hotspots and linked the increase in cases to students coming from those regions.
Critics argue that these remarks not only perpetuate stereotypes but also contribute to a divisive narrative that undermines national unity. The DMK’s historical opposition to the imposition of Hindi in Tamil Nadu has taken on a contemporary form, with leaders using derogatory terms and making sweeping generalisations about North Indians.
The political landscape is heating up as such statements draw attention to regional sentiments and potentially undermine the broader goal of national integration. It remains to be seen how these remarks will impact the political discourse in Tamil Nadu and beyond.