Hindutva leader arrested for saffronising Thiruvalluvar

Hindu Makkal Katchi leader Arjun Sampath adoring Thiruvalluvar statue with rudraksha mala in Thanjavur on Wednesday. (DH Photo)

The controversy over ‘saffronising’ Thiruvalluvar continued on Wednesday with the leader of a Hindu outfit going one step ahead by draping a statue of the saint-poet with a saffron colour shawl and adorning it with a rudraksha mala.

Arjun Sampath, president of the Hindu Makkal Katchi, was arrested hours after he visited Pillayarpatti village in Thanjavur district where Thiruvalluvar statue was desecrated on Monday by smearing it with cow dung. Sampath, known for making provocative statements, climbed up the ladder to reach the statue and draped the bust with a saffron shawl and tied the rudraksha mala before lighting a lamp.

As television channels beamed the visuals live, police flung into action and took Sampath under custody. Sampath’s action comes amid a raging controversy over attempts to “saffronise” and “appropriate” Thiruvalluvar by BJP and other Hindu organisations.

The controversy broke out last week when the Tamil Nadu BJP shared a picture of him in a saffron robe on Twitter to commemorate celebrations of Tamil Nadu formation day on November 1.

The picture used by the Twitter handle of the state BJP was distinctly different from the one that is generally used by Tamil scholars and Tamil Nadu government – he is usually attired in a white robe. But the picture shared by the BJP showed him wearing a saffron-colour robe and his forehead smeared with vibudhi, the scared ash worn by Hindus, inviting accusations that the ruling party at the Centre was “saffronising” and “appropriating” Tamil icons.

Thirukkural, penned by Thiruvalluvar, offers a remedy or a piece of advice for every issue that the modern world encounters and Modi has quoted from this very fine piece of Tamil literature more than once. The Prime Minister also released a book on Thirukkural in Bangkok on Saturday as part of his continued efforts to reach out to the Tamil constituency.   

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