Annamalai faces AIADMK's ire for calling Jayalalithaa 'Hindutva leader'

V K Sasikala, Jayalalithaa’s long-time aide and ousted interim general secretary of the AIADMK, too jumped on the bandwagon to say her late friend 'believed in God, but not in religion'.
Last Updated : 25 May 2024, 13:09 IST
Last Updated : 25 May 2024, 13:09 IST

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Chennai: Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai on Saturday came under fire from leaders of the AIADMK, the principal opposition party in the state, for calling late chief minister J Jayalalithaa as a 'Hindutva leader'.

Former ministers D Jayakumar and R B Udhayakumar, deputy leader of AIADMK Legislature Party, tore into Annamalai for depicting Jayalalithaa as someone who believed in only one religion and asked him to desist from making 'misleading' statements against a leader who is long dead.

V K Sasikala, Jayalalithaa’s long-time aide and ousted interim general secretary of the AIADMK, too jumped on the bandwagon to say her late friend “believed in God, but not in religion.”

“It is common knowledge that Amma (Jayalalithaa) was a believer. At the same time, she never believed in religion. She was the only leader who respected everyone equally and it was during her tenure that people of Tamil Nadu lived in utmost peace. No one can confine such a great leader into a narrow circle,” Sasikala said in a statement.

Annamalai, during an interaction with editors of a news agency, had said that there was a great scope for the BJP to grow in Tamil Nadu due to the void created by the AIADMK's 'drifting away' from the Hindutva ideology after Jayalalithaa's passing.

"Now, if you look at it, till Jayalalithaa ji was alive, she was a far superior Hindutva leader than anybody in Tamil Nadu. Pre-2014, when you have a party like the BJP and Jayalalithaa as a leader … the natural choice of a Hindu voter would be Jayalalithaa, who displayed her Hindu identity openly," Annamalai was quoted as saying by PTI.

Jayakumar, AIADMK’s organising secretary, said Jayalalithaa was a leader who respected and treated all religions equally and ensured that there was no violence in Tamil Nadu when the rest of the country faced unrest over the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992.

“To identify himself as a leader, BJP state chief K Annamalai projecting Amma as someone who stood for one religion is condemnable. It looks like Annamalai has projected Amma as a leader who belonged only to Hindu religion to further his political interests,” Jayakumar said in a statement.

AIADMK spokesperson Vaigai Chelvan said it was Jayalalithaa who launched annadhanam at temples across Tamil Nadu and a scheme for Christians to travel to the holy land of Jerusalem. “It was during Amma’s time that a scheme was made to provide porridge during the holy month of Ramzan. She treated everyone equally,” Chelvan added.

Annamalai and the AIADMK don’t see eye-to-eye after a bitter break-up between the two parties in 2023. The former IPS officer had been critical of Jayalalithaa and Dravidian stalwart C N Annadurai in the past, besides making several controversial statements concerning the AIADMK.

Though Jayalalithaa flaunted her Hindu identity often, she never subscribed to the Hindutva ideology and made efforts to bridge the gulf between her and minorities after her decision to enact an anti-conversion law backfired. For someone who sent kar sevaks to Ayodhya to partake in the Ram Temple movement, Jayalalithaa severed ties with the BJP in 2004 – the elections in which the AIADMK-BJP alliance suffered a humiliating defeat -- and never aligned with the party till her death to gain the confidence of minorities.

A believer to the core, Jayalalithaa never drifted from the Dravidian principles of social justice and played a pivotal role in ensuring that the 69 per cent reservation for OBC, MBC, and SC/ST stayed in the state.

Published 25 May 2024, 13:09 IST

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