KANCHI mutt pontiff Vijayendra Saraswathi finds himself in a controversy for not standing up when the state song was played at a book release function two days ago.At the event, organised by BJP leader H Raja and attended by Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Acharya Saraswathi was the only one on the dais who sat through the playing of the song Tamil Thai Vazhthu. On Thursday, there were protests against the mutt in Kancheepuram and other parts of the state.
Saraswathi, who is a junior pontiff at the mutt, has defended that he failed to stand up as he was meditating when the song was played. However, the DMK, seeking to put the BJP in a spot, has questioned this clarification, asking if Saraswathi was not in meditation when the national anthem was played at the same function later. “What has happened is wrong,” DMK leader Stalin said.
The Left and MDMK leader Vaiko demanded an apology from the pontiff for “disrespecting” the Tamil song, while VCK leader Thol Thirumavalavan asked the government to file a case against him.
The parties opposed to the BJP have pounced on the controversy as it comes close on the heels of the BJP going after Tamil poet Vairamuthu, who is considered close to the DMK and Dravidian parties, over his reference to Hindu saint Andal as a “devadasi”.
While criticising Vairamuthu, Raja, a BJP national secretary, had made derogatory remarks against women in the poet’s family. On January 19, the Madras High Court stayed all criminal proceedings against Vairamuthu. The same day, the Tirunelveli police registered cases against six people, including BJP Tamil Nadu unit vice-president Nainar Nagendran and Hindu Munnani leader V P Jayabalan, under sections dealing with ‘hate speech’ and ‘threats raised in public’.
Vairamuthu too has joined the voices against Saraswathi now, tweeting, “The national anthem is to respect the motherland. Similarly, Tamil anthem respects the mother tongue. Both deserve equal respect.”
Defending Saraswathi, BJP leader and Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan said, “He is someone who respects Tamil… They have already given a clarification.”