'Lord Ram' controversy stirs up TN politics

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Chennai, Sep 23: Except for the war of words and pot shots through rhetorical statements between two protagonists after the end of MGR the phenomenon, Tamil Nadu politics was only known for tinsel heroes or heroines jumping into the fray or the alternate rule of M Karunanidhi led DMK and J Jayalalithaa led AIADMK, not to mention the former's acumen in switching alliances in national politics.

But all of a sudden now, in the wake of controversy over the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SSCP), state politics now resembles 'a boiling cauldron' with Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's outburst against 'Ram Bhaktas' and their'' decrepit culture' as he saw it following the attack on his daughter's residence in Bangalore.

What led to it was by now far too well known. But 'Kalaignar's anti Hindu utterances against that Lord Ram never existed and his defiant query 'in which Engineering college did Ram study to have built the 'Ram Sethu' bridge, have annoyed many fronts.

Never before had any other Dravidian leader made such scathing remarks after one of the Chief Minister's mentors 'rationalist' leader 'Periyar' Ramasamy of the DK, from which DMK branched off in early 60s under the tutelage of former Chief Minister, the late C N Annadurai.

Kalaignar's criticism also gave a chance to leaders of the fledgling new political parties, the DMDK of star Vijayakanth formed during the last Assembly polls and 'Supreme Hero' Saratkumar's ''Akila Indiya Samatuva Makkal Katchi'', formed earlier this month. Predictably, Sarat, no greenhorn in politics really, having been a Rajya Sabha DMK MP before falling out with 'Kalaignar', before crossing over to the AIADMK and then deciding to be on his own.

Although the scheduled Lok Sabha polls as well as the next elections to Tamil Nadu Assembly are a long way to go, hoping that the Lok Sabha polls would follow anytime with the UPA- Left rift leading to a collapse.

Speculation is rife that the AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa would go back to the NDA-BJP fold. However, the top brass of BJP like L K Advani did not directly allude toduring his visit to Chennai two days back.

Another familiar 'switching of roles' is also on cards with Ms Jayalalithaa's ally MDMK leader Vaiko not seeing eye to eye on the 'Lord Ram' issue with the AIADMK.

Vaiko was a strong votary of Sethusamudram project while he was with the DMK and during his days of incarceration under POTA legislation introduced by the erstwhile NDA government to curb terrorist activities.

Vaiko, it may be recalled was held for his alleged open support to a terrorist organisation, the banned LTTE, responsible for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

The ruling DMK, heading the dream alliance of DPA formed during the last Lok Sabha polls and continuing in the state politics, was also under strain what with its ally PMK led by Dr S Ramadoss criticising it on several fronts and 'Kalaignar' himself hinting directly that those who criticised his government need not be with him.

This was the first discordant note in Tamil Nadu politics and it was followed by cropping up of the all too familiar factionalism in the Congress, with whom the DMK revived its alliance after falling out with the erstwhile BJP or NDA.

But now with the controversy over 'Kalaignar's remarks on 'Lord Rama' and his allies rallying round him in support of the Sethu project, the Tamil Nadu politics has hit national headlines again after another sensational fall out of 'Kalaignar' with his grand nephew former Union IT Minister Dayanidhi Maran and his elder brother Kalanidhi over an opinion poll published in their Tamil daily 'Dinakaran' over Mr Karunanidhi's successor in DMK, in May last.

Whichever way one sees this, Tamil Nadu politics is right now a 'boiling cauldron'.


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