PM Modi’s remark on Puri temple drives wedge between States: Stalin

Updated - May 22, 2024 02:13 am IST

Published - May 22, 2024 01:25 am IST - Chennai

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. K. Stalin. File

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. K. Stalin. File | Photo Credit: AP

DMK president and Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on Tuesday took exception to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks at a campaign in Odisha that “the keys of Ratna Bhandar, the inner chamber of the Shri Jagannath Temple in Puri, had been taken to Tamil Nadu.”

“He [Mr. Modi] had not only insulted Lord Jagannath, who is worshipped by crores of people, but also wounded the people of Tamil Nadu who shared a cordial relationship with Odisha. Is it not a speech that is aimed at instigating the people of Odisha against the people of Tamil Nadu, whose devotion to Lord Jagannath is immeasurable? Can the Prime Minister term the people of Tamil Nadu as thieves who have stolen the keys of the treasury of Lord Jagannath temple,” Mr. Stalin questioned in a statement.

He further said that it would not augur well for the country if its Prime Minister, who should be seeking votes on the basis of policies, ideology, agenda, and achievements of his government, drove a wedge between States through his “hatred campaign”.

Mr. Stalin said that despite his condemning the Prime Minister’s recent speech at a campaign in Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Modi did not stop denigrating the people of Tamil Nadu.

Wondering why the Prime Minister “was nurturing so much of hatred for Tamils,” Mr. Stalin said that Mr. Modi spoke highly of the Tamil language and the intelligence of Tamils during his visits to Tamil Nadu, but sought to portray them as thieves in his campaigns at Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha. “The people will understand his [Mr. Modi’s] double standards. He should stop denigrating Tamil Nadu and Tamils,” he said.

Meanwhile, BJP State president K. Annamalai posted on X (formerly Twitter), “It is unfortunate that Mr. Stalin, who lives in a silo surrounded by cheerleaders who are keeping him distant from the happenings in Tamil Nadu and beyond, talks about matters without understanding the context of what was spoken by Mr. Modi. We [the BJP] wish Mr. Stalin be reminded that dividing people in the name of region, religion, language and caste has been his party’s domain expertise, which we are determined to stay away from.”

Responding to Mr. Stalin’s statement, TMC president G.K. Vasan on Tuesday said the Chief Minister had “twisted” the speech “to create a difference of opinion between the people of Tamil Nadu and Odisha.”

“Since the Lok Sabha election have entered its final phase, Mr. Stalin, after realising that the INDIA bloc will not win, has twisted Mr. Modi’s speech to divert the attention,” he said in a statement, terming Mr. Stalin’s statment a “blatant lie”.

“Tamils living across the world know that Mr. Modi has been giving high respect and importance to Tamil tradition and culture, Tirukkural and Sengol,” he added.

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