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Thursday, Oct 24, 2019

After backlash, ex-BJP Minister Clarifies on ‘Tamils Ungrateful’ Outburst

Pon Radhakrishnan said he termed as ungrateful only those politicians who use Tamil to further their political agenda without any concern for the development of the language.

india Updated: Sep 17, 2019 21:46 IST
MC Rajan
MC Rajan
Hindustan Times, Chennai
Former Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan  offering prayers on  Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s  birthday at the Nagaraja Temple, Tamil  Nadu’s Nagercoil .
Former Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan offering prayers on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday at the Nagaraja Temple, Tamil Nadu’s Nagercoil . (Twitter)
         

BJP leader and former Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan on Tuesday clarified that he did not blame all Tamils but only those fanning linguistic passions for political mileage when he remarked “Tamils are ungrateful” as he ran down Dravidian parties and even the saffron party’s allies on the issue of Hindi.

Radhakrishnan’s remark on Monday had drawn a furious backlash and forced him to issue a clarification within 24 hours.

“I did not mean to say that all seven crore people of Tamil Nadu are ungrateful. I have termed as ungrateful only those politicians who are using Tamil to further their political agenda without any concern for the development of the language,” he said indirectly hitting out at the opposition DMK and its allies.

Those leaders espousing the cause of Tamil are mere traders in politics, trying to whip up emotions for their own gain, he said.

He was speaking to the media after offering prayers at the Nagaraja temple in Nagercoil in southern Kanniyakumari district on the occasion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday.

The BJP finds itself isolated in the issue of Hindi with even its ally, the AIADMK asserting that the party was wedded to the two-language formula. Other allies of the saffron party, the OBC-Vanniyar dominant Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and the DMDK of actor Vijayakant too have made it clear that they are opposed to the hegemony of Hindi in any form. The BJP’s allies have also distanced themselves from Union home minister Amit Shah’s view on Hindi being a unifying language.

With the debate on Hindi acquiring the centre stage in the political discourse, Radhakrishnan had vented his ire at the people not celebrating Prime Minister Modi for eulogising Tamil as the oldest language of the country.

“Modi is the first ever PM to have proclaimed that Tamil is even older than Sanskrit. We should have celebrated it if we had any love for our language,” he had said.

But Radhakrishnan’s remark only invited brickbats. The Tamil Nadu Congress Committee demanded that the BJP leader apologise while DMK president MK Stalin said he would respond to such remarks during the party’s state-wide protest on September 20.

Actor-politician Kamal Hassan who heads the Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) wondered whether the former minister had forgotten his mother tongue. “I think he had changed his language,” he told reporters during an interaction at the Chennai airport on Monday.

First Published: Sep 17, 2019 21:46 IST

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