Ancient Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar is in the midst of a controversy in the holy city of Haridwar.
Cutting across party lines, politicians from Tamil Nadu urged Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat to find a place for the statue on Tuesday. Amid growing pressure, the Haridwar administration re-erected the statue in the compound of a government building, where the statue was otherwise kept wrapped in a plastic sheet.
The installation of Thiruvalluvar’s statue is the brainchild of former BJP Rajya Sabha MP from Uttarakhand, Tarun Vijay, whose term expired this month.
On June 29, Vijay invited the Uttarakhand CM, governor KK Paul and other dignitaries for the installation of the statue at the Shiv bridge near Har Ki Pauri, but the Ganga Sabha — the umbrella body of ‘teerth-purohits’ at Har Ki Pauri — objected to it. It was then decided to install the idol at Shankaracharya Chowk, named after Adi Shankaracharya, but saints resisted the move.
Finally, the statue was unveiled at a government guesthouse in a brief function that was attended by the governors of UP, Meghalaya, a minister from Tamil Nadu among others late on Tuesday.
“It is up to Harish Rawat to decide (where to permanently install statue)… Politicians have extended support (to Thiruvalluvar statue),” BJP’s former lawmaker said on Wednesday.
Baba Hathyogi, a spokesperson of the Akhil Bhartiya Akhara Parishad – a powerful body of saints – said they were not opposed to the idea of installation of the statue. “We are not opposed to it. In fact, we would have provided land to Tarun Vijay had he approached us. But he didn’t even have a word with us before (making a plan for statue’s installation),” he said.
The Ganga Sabha echoed the sentiment. Purshottam Sharma, president of the organization, said no one should play politics in the name of saints.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa stepped into the controversy on Wednesday and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene in the issue. “The visuals of the statue in this condition, beamed on television screens, are causing outrage in Tamil Nadu,” Jayalalithaa said in a letter to Modi.