The upcoming inauguration of the Sri Ram Mandir has sparked a political discourse, with T.R. Baalu’s remarks adding a critical perspective to the narrative surrounding the highly anticipated event. Lok Sabha MP TR Baalu from the Dravidian Model DMK Government criticized the upcoming inauguration of the Sri Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, scheduled for January 22. Describing the event as a mere political stunt, Baalu asserted that it is an attempt to deceive the public rather than a significant religious ceremony.
According to Baalu, the auspicious occasion of the Sri Ram Temple inauguration is being manipulated for political gains, dismissing its religious significance. The DMK MP accused the BJP government at the Centre of orchestrating the event as a gimmick to sway public opinion, particularly with an eye on the forthcoming Lok Sabha election.
A delegation of all-party MPs led by TR Baalu recently met Home Minister Amit Shah, where Baalu commended the Centre’s proactive approach in addressing the concerns of Tamil Nadu. Baalu acknowledged that the Centre had dispatched three inter-ministerial teams to assess damages in the state, and ministers Rajnath Singh and Nirmala Sitharaman were deputed to review the situation. Baalu’s statement directly contradicted claims made by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Finance Minister Thangam Thennarasu, Sports Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin, and others who had accused the Centre of neglecting the state.
Dispelling notions of neglect, Baalu expressed confidence that the Centre was duly considering Tamil Nadu’s needs, highlighting the ongoing collaborative efforts to address the aftermath of various challenges faced by the state.
However, a day before Pongal, the TN BJP Chief Annamalai released ‘DMK Files 3’ on his social media platform. The release included an audio conversation purportedly between DMK MP TR Baalu and former Intelligence Chief Jaffer Sait during the DMK’s tenure from 2006 to 2011. Annamalai, citing the audio clip, alleged that during the 2G scam, the Congress and DMK colluded to manipulate the timing of the probe, control news narratives, and tailor the investigation to suit their convenience.
During the 54th-anniversary celebrations of Thuglak magazine, Annamalai detailed the contents of ‘DMK Files Part III,’ emphasising its significance. He explained that Part I focused on the direct assets of DMK functionaries, while Part II delved into the benami assets of DMK functionaries. Part III, he noted, provided a comprehensive view of the nature of the DMK as a political entity.
Annamalai further revealed that the tape unveiled how Tamil Nadu politicians directed the CBI regarding the timing of raids. He claimed that during that period, a prominent leader in Tamil Nadu suggested the CBI delay its operations until the following day when fishermen would be on strike. Annamalai hinted at more revelations to come, including conversations between the then Chief Secretary of TN and the former Intelligence Chief, discussions between A Raja and the personal secretary of the then CM, and exchanges between TR Baalu and the CBI Director. The audio clip release added a layer of complexity to the political landscape, underscoring the ongoing dynamics and narratives in Tamil Nadu politics.
This is one of the many tapes that will expose the corrupt nature of the I.N.D.I. Alliance, which held a different name between 2004-14.#DMKFiles3
First tape: Conversation between DMK MP & former Min. Thiru TR Baalu & MS Jaffar Sait, a former chief of TN State Intelligence… pic.twitter.com/TJy8IXjZZY
— K.Annamalai (@annamalai_k) January 14, 2024
In a series of contentious remarks, DMK’s Parliamentary Party leader TR Baalu has criticised the BJP government’s approach towards the upcoming inauguration of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, labelling it a political manoeuvre to gain favour in the impending Lok Sabha election. Baalu asserted that the BJP, after a decade of “hunting down the people,” is now attempting to portray the completion of the Ram temple construction as an achievement, using it as a political tool for electoral gains.
In a statement, Baalu condemned the BJP’s utilisation of religious sentiments for political mobilisation and vote-bank politics. He argued that the capitalization of individual faith for political purposes contradicts the spirit of India and constitutional values, deeming it detrimental to the nation’s future. Baalu accused the BJP of attempting to divert attention from its governance failures by projecting the Ram temple construction as an achievement.
Responding to Baalu’s allegations, VHP functionary Arumugakani countered by accusing the DMK of making claims about the retrieval of temple properties and consecrations without providing a white paper to substantiate their assertions. Arumugakani maintained that the consecrations were financed through donations, philanthropy, and other sources, with the government not contributing any funds or utilising temple revenues. He criticised the DMK’s announcement of benefits for Christians and Muslims, suggesting a shift in focus from their main vote bank, the Hindus.
Highlighting the DMK’s secular stance, Baalu emphasised that under Chief Minister M.K. Stalin’s leadership, the party had renovated and consecrated thousands of temples, ensuring the welfare of devotees and reclaiming temple land valued at Rs. 5,300 crore. Baalu asserted that the DMK’s commitment to secularism was reflected in its actions, contrasting it with the BJP’s alleged exploitation of religious sentiments for political gain.
The controversy deepened as Arumugakani accused the DMK of dodging demands for a white paper on temple properties, suggesting a lack of transparency in their claims. He contended that the DMK was taking credit for temple consecrations that were funded independently and criticised their alleged negligence of Hindu-centric schemes and benefits.
Notably, TR Baalu, known for his atheistic beliefs, faced scrutiny for his past statements where he claimed to have demolished three temples during the Sethusamudram project, emphasising the construction of better temples as a replacement. Baalu’s candid admission of prioritising development over religious structures drew attention, illustrating his pragmatism despite potential political consequences.
In the larger political context, the Edapadi K Palaniswamy-led AIADMK was portrayed as a minority party primarily focused on its internal issues and proposed schemes. The party’s narrative seemed to revolve around its specific agendas, failing to present a broader platform that resonated with a diverse voter base.
As Tamil Nadu’s political landscape becomes increasingly dynamic, the interplay of religious sentiments, governance claims, and party narratives will likely shape the discourse leading up to the elections. The contrasting perspectives of TR Baalu, VHP’s Arumugakani, and the AIADMK underscore the complex and multifaceted nature of politics in the region, with each party striving to secure its position within the diverse socio-political fabric of Tamil Nadu.