In a recent incident in Tamil Nadu, Thamizhar Peravai (DK’s Tamil Council) deputy general secretary Uma Illakiya, who identifies herself as a journalist, made inflammatory remarks against Hindu Bhagwan Ram during the Pran Prathishtha in Ayodhya on January 22. Illakiya’s controversial statement, where she alleged that Bhagwan Ram slept with thousands of women, lacked courage, and committed suicide, has sparked outrage and raised concerns about attacks on Hindu beliefs in the state.
Ilakiya, during her address, voiced concerns about alleged attempts to undermine the cultural identity of Tamil Nadu and accused the BJP of pursuing a hidden agenda to establish a Hindu Rashtra.
The crux of Ilakiya’s statements revolved around the accusation that the BJP is attempting to alter traditional Tamil festivals and institutions. She specifically pointed to the alleged renaming of the Pongal festival to Sankaranti and criticised the introduction of auspicious timings for the celebration. Ilakiya argued that these changes were part of a larger strategy to entangle the people in religious and superstitious practices.
“We celebrate it as a gratitude to the sun, so ideally we must make the Pongal when the sun rises. We have been doing this all these years. What is the need for an auspicious time for it?” Ilakiya questioned, expressing concerns about the potential erosion of Tamil cultural practices.
Furthermore, she claimed that the BJP’s focus on the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) department was a deliberate attempt to interfere with the state’s affairs. According to Ilakiya, the BJP strategically raises issues related to the HR and CE department, especially when the DMK is in power. She asserted that the BJP aims to create discord and ultimately dismiss the state government.
Ilakiya went on to share her apprehensions about the RSS completing 100 years in 2025 and alleged plans to declare the country a Hindurashtra. She suggested that a government akin to what is observed in Uttar Pradesh is the envisioned future, characterised by religious fanaticism. She warned that post the 2024 elections, India might undergo a transformation, asserting that the BJP does not accept the country as India but insists on calling it Bharat.
“The RSS completes 100 years in 2025, and at that time they will announce that this country is a Hindurashtra, a Ram Rajya – how UP is today, the kind of government that is in power, the same religious fanatical government is what they envision for the entire country,” she proclaimed.
Ilakiya also touched upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visits to Tamil Nadu, accusing him of deceiving the public by claiming to speak about Tamil culture while allegedly acting against it. She contended that the BJP’s actions, such as the funding of the Ayodhya temple, contradicted Modi’s public statements.
Regarding the Ayodhya temple, she made a controversial comparison between Modi and Lord Rama, suggesting that Rama did not live together with his wife, implying a mismatch between Modi’s promises and actions. Ilakiya raised concerns about the influence of Brahminical values in the potential establishment of a Ram Rajya or Hindurashtra, expressing the need to protect children from such ideologies.
“We have to break all these; we have to protect our children from this. Whether they are planning to bring in a Ram Rajya or a Hindurashtra, it is going to be a Brahmin Rajya,” she asserted.
Still the abuse on Sri Rama continued by DMK people.. pic.twitter.com/D6NQMrBZkm
— Vishwatma 🇮🇳 (@HLKodo) January 29, 2024
Uma Ilakiya, launched a scathing attack on the BJP-RSS alliance, accusing them of attempting to erode Tamil culture and relegate women to traditional roles, all under the guise of the Ayodhya temple inauguration.
Ilakiya criticised what she deemed the BJP-RSS’s attempt to use Ayodhya as a symbol to enforce regressive gender roles. She questioned the necessity of door-to-door invitations for a temple inauguration, alleging that the distribution of yellow rice mixed with turmeric powder had symbolic implications. Ilakiya pondered whether it was a subtle way of suggesting a final offering of rice grains to the entire country, asserting that Modi and Amit Shah were symbolically conveying a limited future for the people.
She further labelled Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah as “magicians” fooling India, accusing them of committing atrocities on a national scale similar to their actions in Gujarat.
Delving into the religious narrative, Ilakiya invoked the Valmiki Ramayan to criticise Bhagwan Ram. She claimed that Ram, according to the scripture, lived with thousands of women in the palace, indulging in merry-making with drinks. Ilakiya questioned the appropriateness of presenting Rama as an example for children, citing allegations of suicide, doubts about his wife, and accusations of murder against him.
The contentious statements by Uma Ilakiya set the stage for a broader discussion on the political landscape of Tamil Nadu. In a parallel development, the police arrested Trichy Pugal Machendran, the BJP IT Wing & Social Media State Secretary, at 5 a.m., over an alleged provocative Facebook post. Machendran’s post, dated January 28, 2024, commemorated the death anniversary of Palani Baba, also known as Ahmed Ali, president of the All India Jihad Committee. The post celebrated Baba’s demise, referring to him as a “poisonous plant” that had been uprooted, thanking those responsible.
The selective arrests by the police have drawn criticism from Hindu Munnani President Kadesweara Subramaniyam, who voiced concerns about freedom of expression being under threat and stifled in Tamil Nadu. Subramaniyam highlighted a dangerous trend wherein individuals criticising either the ruling DMK government or minorities are arrested in the wee hours, equating the treatment to that of terrorists. He expressed worry over what he perceived as partial action, especially in instances where provocative statements from minority groups were overlooked.
One of our IT wing state secretaries, Thiru @pugal_trichy has been picked up by the TN police at 5:45 am in the morning allegedly for an inflammatory Facebook post ! If that is the yardstick , most upees should be locked up in the cellular prison for life .
Sections invoked… pic.twitter.com/9tJD2Wmed3
— karthik gopinath (@karthikgnath) January 29, 2024
Subramaniyam cited an incident involving a DMK functionary from Coimbatore, Thendral Selvaraj, who allegedly posted a message on social media about the meat biryani, claiming it to be the favourite food of Lord Ram. The police arrested BJP and Sangh Parivar members protesting in front of Selvaraj’s house but took no action against him. Subramaniyam further pointed out instances where Muslim outfits, including the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), made controversial comments on Lord Ram, Hinduism, and Hindus without facing any consequences.
He criticised the Tamil Nadu government for selectively acting against individuals spreading religious hatred on social media, despite the Supreme Court’s directives to file cases impartially. Subramaniyam urged the government to cease its selective and biased actions and arrest all individuals responsible for derogatory and abusive posts on gods, scriptures, and Hindus on social media.
On a different front, journalists aligned with the DMK have reportedly escalated their criticism against Annamalai, a prominent BJP leader in Tamil Nadu. The journalists are accused of peddling falsehoods and threatening to boycott Annamalai’s events as his speeches gain popularity among the masses. The escalating tension between political factions and the media adds another layer to the complex socio-political landscape of Tamil Nadu.
As these events unfold, the state finds itself at the crossroads of debates on religious freedom, political expression, and the role of the media in shaping public opinion. The repercussions of these controversies are likely to reverberate in the political corridors of Tamil Nadu for some time.