‘Independent Tamil Nadu’ which DMK’s A Raja invoked, his story and such recent comments
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader A Raja recently implored Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to provide “statehood” to Tamil Nadu and not to push them to seek an independent country.
Raja said that although Thanthai Periyar, the icon of the Dravidian movement, represents an independent Tamil Nadu, the DMK has moved away from it. But he asked Modi and Shah not to push them ‘on the way to Periyar’ [independent Tamil Nadu].
EV Ramasamy Periyar (1879-1973) said in 1937 at the Conference of Tamils that “to overcome the domination of Hindi over the Tamil and Dravidian race, the only solution would be ‘a separate sovereign state, i.e. say Tamil Nadu for Tamils ””, according to Dr K Veeramani, who quoted Complete Works of Periyar EVR as its source.
It is in this Dravidian context that Raja’s comments must be seen. Here we explain what Raja said, what it means and how the demand for a separate Tamil Nadu evolved.
What did A Raja say?
In the presence of DMK leader and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, A Raja said that the Union government should grant more autonomy to Tamil Nadu, so that it does not have to call to a separate Tamil Nadu.
Raja said: “I say to Amit Shah and the Prime Minister with utmost humility, I implore you in the presence of [DMK] leaders on the dais, our chief minister travels the way of Anna [former Chief Minister and DMK founder], do not push us on the way to Periyar. Don’t force us to look for a separate country, give state autonomy and we will have no rest until then.”
Raja not only made these comments verbally, but he also shared the video of the comments on Twitter and wrote the same in Tamil.
‘அண்ணா வழியில் பயணம் செய்கிறார் முதலமைச்சர், எங்களை பெரியார் தள்ளிவிடாதீர்கள்’ ‘
மாநில சுயாட்சி தாருங்கள்’
‘ https://t.co/gFDZoOSrn7 pic.twitter.com/BEapnK60Rq
— A RAJA (@dmk_raja) July 3, 2022
The story of the call to separate Tamil Nadu
Periyar founded the Self-Respect Movement and envisioned an independent Dravida homeland of Dravida Nadu, including speakers of Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada, and launched a political party, Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) for this objective, according to a report in The Indian Express. He adds that Periyar’s movement was anti-caste, anti-religion and anti-North Indian.
In this movement, he was joined by CN Annadurai for years. However, the two fell out and Annadurai founded his own political party DMK. While DMK participated in electoral politics, Periyar refused it.
“The DMK initially followed the same ideologies as the parent party – Dravidar Kazhagam. But with the development of national politics and the constitution of India after the Sino-Indian war in 1962, Annadurai abandoned the claim of a Independent Dravida Nadu”, notes History of Tamil Nadu (1800-1967)published online by Kamaraj College.
Raja’s comment that DMK has moved away from Periyar’s belief should be seen in this context.
The new Indian Express quoted Marxist leader Thozhar Thiyagu as saying that Annudurai left the Dravida Nadu claim only after the 1962 war and Periyar left the claim after the reorganization of states on a linguistic basis in 1956.
“When the states were reorganized on the basis of the language spoken by the people there in 1956, Periyar had given up the demand for ‘Dravida Naadu’ as it became meaningless after the reorganization of the states and reverted to his earlier request – Tamil Nadu Thamizharukke [Tamil Nadu is only for Tamils],” Noted The new Indian Express quoting Thiyagu.
Re-emergence of calls for a separate Tamil Nadu
While traditional rulers have abandoned overt calls for an independent country in the south, comments in this regard have been made in recent years.
A 2018 article in Hindustan time noted that opposition parties have united against the powerful Union government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with such comments.
He noted, “A kind of secessionist statement is seen as part of an opposition identity.”
The article cited two examples from 2018.
He reported, “Two recent events have been extremely significant. The first was Chandrababu Naidu’s call for a federation of southern states to fight against the BJP onslaught. Naidu visualized it within the electoral framework but also as a means of giving the South both financially and political respite from the BJP.The second appeal, made by DMK leader Stalin who raised memories of linguistic secession, was the Dravida Nadu project.
In 2018, The Express reported Stalin, who was then the leader of the opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, saying that if a demand was made for a Dravida Nadu comprising the southern states, he would support it.
The Express further reported it as saying, “Anna dropped the idea of Dravida Nadu and clarified that there were reasons for its creation. Anna was right, especially now that we see how southern states are being ignored by the BJP government.”
Raja’s comments are therefore the latest in the line of comments about independent Tamil Nadu.