Udhayanidhi Stalin’s Controversial Sanatana Dharma Remarks Spark Backlash: Who Said What?
Udhayanidhi Stalin, the son of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin and a state minister, found himself in the midst of a political controversy when he made remarks equating ‘Sanatana‘ (Sanatan Dharma) with various diseases like mosquitoes, Dengue, Malaria, fever, and Corona. He suggested that it should be eradicated like these ailments. This statement led to sharp criticism from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and reactions from various political leaders.
Sanatana Dharma is often defined as an “eternal” religion, emphasizing its enduring relevance and giving people of the Hindu faith the freedom to choose their preferred deity. Organizations like the Isha Foundation and ISKON offer their own interpretations, describing it as a set of religious duties and transcending temporary belief systems.
Udhayanidhi, who holds the portfolio of Sports and Youth Affairs, made these remarks during a conference, drawing ire from the BJP. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party defended him, claiming that his statement had been twisted, while opposition leaders cautioned against such comments.
#UdhayanidhiStalin faces ire; DMK fiercely defends anti-Sanatan remark. Watch the face-off between Tamil Nadu BJP Secy @asuvathaman & DMK spokesperson @saravofcl. #SanatanaDharma #ITVideo | @PoojaShali pic.twitter.com/gb1484gZKa
— IndiaToday (@IndiaToday) September 4, 2023
Here are the reactions from political leaders:
Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar
They criticized Udhayanidhi for his comments, describing him as a “spoiled brat” and accusing him of insulting Indians and people from Tamil Nadu. He questioned Udhayanidhi’s qualifications to speak on matters of faith.
BJP Spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla
They went further, characterizing Udhayanidhi’s remarks as a “genocidal call” and alleging support from Congress leader Karti Chidambaram. He questioned whether this was an expression of love or hatred.
Tamil Nadu BJP President K. Annamalai
They highlighted the historical significance of ‘Sanatana Dharma,’ asserting its existence before Christianity and Islam. He condemned Udhayanidhi’s statement and labelled it as an attack on a particular religion and culture.
Congress leader Acharya Pramod
They noted the historical efforts to erase ‘Sanatan Dharma’ over a millennium but emphasized that it had survived.
Congress leader Rashid Alvi
They held the BJP responsible for politicizing religion, which, in his view, had led to such controversial statements.
UP Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya
They condemned attempts to disrupt social harmony and urged political leaders to avoid making religious remarks.
Rajya Sabha MP and RJD leader Manoj Jha
They suggested that symbolic expressions needed deeper understanding.
AAP Leader Sanjay Singh
They underscored India’s diversity in terms of religion, caste, and language. He emphasized the importance of respecting all religions and avoiding comments on others’ faiths.
As the controversy escalated, DMK Joint Secretary and Spokesperson Saravanan Annadurai defended Udhayanidhi’s remarks. He argued that Udhayanidhi’s statement had been taken out of context and accused certain sources of spreading fake news and hate speech. He drew parallels with Prime Minister Modi’s call for a “Congress Mukt Bharat” and questioned whether that could also be seen as a call for genocide. Saravanan Annadurai clarified that when they talk about doing away with ‘Sanatana Dharma,’ they are referring to dismantling the rigid caste system.
In response to the growing controversy, Udhayanidhi posted a clarification on social media. He asserted that he had not called for “genocide” and clarified his position, stating that ‘Sanatana Dharma’ divides people based on caste and religion. He argued that uprooting ‘Sanatana Dharma’ is about promoting humanity and human equality.
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