Tamil Nadu BJP President K Annamalai argued that Modi’s deep affinity for the Tamil language, frequent praise of its ancient and classical status, and citation of Tamil literary works such as Thirukkural and Purananooru qualify him as a Tamilian at heart. This response comes amid ongoing discussions about political identity and representation in Tamil Nadu, challenging the notion that one must be born in the state to connect with its culture and people. Give a news headline to this paragraph.
Annamalai, emphasised a broader definition of Tamil identity, asserting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s love for the Tamil language qualifies him as a Tamilian, irrespective of birthplace. Annamalai questioned the exclusive view held by some, citing the example of migrants from Ongole being accepted as Tamilians. In an implicit reference to DMK’s Karunanidhi, whose ancestors hailed from Ongole, Annamalai cleverly challenged traditional notions of Tamil identity.
He posed critical questions about the authenticity of Tamil identity within the ruling DMK class, questioning the language spoken at their homes. Annamalai alleged that many ministers, despite holding key positions in Tamil Nadu, are from Telugu-speaking communities, raising concerns about the representation of true Tamil identity in politics.
Annamali stated that in a testament to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s deep admiration for Tamil Nadu, its language, and literary heritage, various instances underscore his special connection with the Tamil community. PM Modi’s unparalleled love for Tamil Nadu and its culture is evident through his inauguration of the Kashi Tamil Sangamam and Saurashtra Sangamam, demonstrating a commitment to promoting Tamil language and culture.
PM Modi’s affinity for Tamil individuals is reflected in his choice of trusted bureaucrats and ministers from Tamil Nadu both during his tenure in Gujarat and at the centre. He values skills and merit, offering deserving individuals positions of influence.
The establishment of the Subramania Bharati Chair of Tamil Studies at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) is a notable initiative by PM Modi, emphasizing his commitment to Tamil literature and academia. Tamil Nadu has received considerable attention in PM Modi’s Mann Ki Baat broadcasts, where he frequently quotes from Tamil poets like Kambar and Thirukkural.
He further said that PM Modi’s engagement with the Tamil language extends to everyday encounters, as witnessed in his conversation in Tamil with a barber from Thoothukudi. His speeches often include references to Tamil cultural icons, quoting Avvaiyyar in Chennai and Sage Thiruvalluvar even in Ladakh.
Notably, during his address at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2019, PM Modi invoked Tamil poet Kaniyan Pungundranar, highlighting India’s unique sense of belonging beyond borders.
In July 2020, during a surprise visit to Ladakh, PM Modi quoted saint poet Tiruvalluvar, emphasising the importance of valour, honour, and dignified behaviour in the armed forces.
These instances collectively underscore PM Modi’s profound connection with Tamil Nadu, reflecting his support for Tamil culture, literature, and the recognition of Tamil figures on global platforms. The Prime Minister’s gestures demonstrate a commitment to fostering a strong and inclusive sense of national identity that transcends linguistic and regional boundaries.
In his 2019 Independence Day address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised the significance of water conservation by quoting the Tamil couplet “Neer indri Amayadhu.” He underscored the vital role of water, stating that its disappearance disrupts nature’s processes and can lead to total destruction. PM Modi’s commitment to promoting Indian thought and culture globally was evident during his visit to Thailand in the same year, where he quoted the “Talatri tanda” couplet and released the Thai version of the classic Tamil text, ‘Tirukkural.’
In a move to bridge cultures, PM Modi, along with Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape, released the Tamil classic ‘Thirukkural’ in the Tok Pisin language during their meeting in July last year. This initiative aimed to bring Indian thought closer to the people of Papua New Guinea.
Addressing political strategies in Tamil Nadu, the narrative shifts to the tactics of the late DMK patriarch, Karunanidhi. He strategically labelled his opponents, including AIADMK founder MGR, as Malayalee and Jayalalithaa as Kannadiga, ostensibly to divert attention from his own Telugu background. Despite concealing his Telugu roots, Karunanidhi consistently demonstrated an affinity for Telugu individuals in various government roles.
Interestingly, Karunanidhi refrained from questioning EV Ramaswamy Naicker (Periyar), who was identified as Kannadiga, despite his controversial stance against the Tamil language and Tamilians. This strategic approach to identity politics by Karunanidhi sheds light on the nuanced dynamics within Tamil Nadu’s political landscape, highlighting the use of regional affiliations for political advantage.