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Rangoli as a political tool: DMK carries out Anti-CAA rangoli campaign across TN

Seizing the opportunity offered by the novel protest, the principal opposition DMK and the Muslim party, Manithaneya Jananayaga Katchi (MJK), an ally of the ruling AIADMK, have joined the kolam protest.

south Updated: Dec 31, 2019 07:21 IST
MC Rajan
MC Rajan
Hindustan Times, Chennai
A 'Rangoli' against CAA and NRC seen outside the residence of the DMK President M K Stalin, in Chennai, Monday morning, Dec. 30, 2019.
A 'Rangoli' against CAA and NRC seen outside the residence of the DMK President M K Stalin, in Chennai, Monday morning, Dec. 30, 2019. (PTI file photo)

A traditional decorative art put up in front of homes in the mornings, the rangoli or ‘kolam’ as it is called in Tamil, has turned out to be a political tool for those campaigning against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The kolam protest has picked up steam on Monday, a day after the Chennai police detained a group of women were booked for drawing rangoli on the streets to voice their protest against the new citizenship statute.

Seizing the opportunity offered by the novel protest, the principal opposition DMK and the Muslim party, Manithaneya Jananayaga Katchi (MJK), an ally of the ruling AIADMK, have joined the kolam protest.

Houses of frontline leaders of the DMK as well as the cadre and functionaries sported rangolis of different varieties with the message: “No to CAA and NRC”. Such kolams greeted passersby and onlookers at the residences of DMK president MK Stalin at Alwarpet, late Chief Minister and DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi at Gopalapuram and party Rajya Sabha MP, Kanimozhi at CIT Colony in the city.

Responding to Kanimozhi’s call, the party’s women’s wing joined the campaign in full strength with even those in small towns and villages turning their streets into a veritable rangoli contest.

Cadre and supporters of the MJK, led by Thamimun Ansari, MLA and an ally of the AIADMK, took to the streets and main throughfares in Triupur and elsewhere drawing anti-CAA kolams.

What was started off as a novel protest by a group of young women on Sunday morning at the posh Besant Nagar area in Chennai has given impetus to the rangoli campaign. The five women who drew kolams on the streets were arrested and bundled out in a police vehicle. Three women lawyers who came to defend them were also arrested. All of them were part of a collective, “Citizens Against CAA”. Following widespread criticism from the DMK, Congress, the Left partiers, the VCK, MDMK and others the police released them later in the day.

However, the spark ignited by them had turned into wildfire.

“The youth booked by the regime of bonded labourers which is ever vigilant to ensure that the Centre should not even get harmed by a kolam called on me.

The government attempted to destroy a kolam, but, today the whole of Tamil Nadu sports protest kolam. Thanks to Edappadi government,” Stalin tweeted.

The arrest of the women had invited condemnation from Vaiko, MP, of the MDMK and other leaders who described it as a clear proof of the increasing authoritarianism of the AIADMK government.

The AIADMK has defended the police action with Tamil Development Minister ‘Mafoi’ K Pandiarajan saying that the message of the kolams was intended to create disorder.

“The protesters were arrested not for drawing kolams, but only because the message was intended to spread disorder,” he had said.

On the other hand, Information Minister Kadambur Rajau, attempted to douse the fire saying that anyone can protest in a democracy but within the confines of the law.

“The government is not against protests for they are a democratic right. In fact, the government Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, has witnessed more than 30,000 protests. But, they should be according to law and with due permission,” he told newspersons after casting his vote in the panchayat elections in Thoothukudi district.

The BJP sees this as an attempt by the DMK to instigate people with a sinister motive of destroying amity and harmony.

“CAA is now a law but rules are yet to be framed. It will come soon.

Police denied permission for the protest by the women’s group. It is instigation and DMK and MJK are planning to divide people even in streets when in the auspicious Tamil month of Marghazhi people, especially the Hindus adorn their entrances with kolams,” says BJP state general secretary Karu Nagarajan.

But, this is not the first time that Tamil Nadu had witnessed kolam being employed as a tool for political campaign. During the height of the 2G Spectrum scandal, the AIADMK had used rangoli as a mode of effective political propaganda to take on the DMK in the 2011 assembly elections. She asked the party cadre to draw kolams with the 2G motif on the streets. With the 2G scam proving to be the DMK’s Achilles heels, Jayalalithaa returned to power.