On the Sanatan Dharma row, union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said DMK leader Udhayanidhi Stalin should speak realising his responsibility as a state minister. Despite witnessing insult to “Lord Rama” in Tamil Nadu in 1971, Sanatan Dharma did not respond with violence, she said.
Speaking to reporters in Chennai, the finance minister said if Udhayanidhi Stalin expects that there should not be any reaction to his Sanatan comments, then it is wrong. The debate on Sanatan was started by minister Udhayanidhi, belonging to the DMK, an INDIA bloc constituent and did he initiate that debate eyeing the election (2024 Lok Sabha election), she questioned.
She was answering a question related to criticism of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader Thol Thirumavalavan that the BJP was indulging in Sanatan debate considering polls. “We did not start the debate, it is you who began it.” Everyone has a right and they may express their views. However, after becoming a minister a person should speak keeping in mind his responsibilities, she said.
It is wrong to use words that may incite violence or words that have connotations of violence. Ever since the nation adopted the Constitution following independence, the onus is on avoiding use of language that may instigate violence.
Only whatever is needed to prevent hatred should be done. Referring to Udhayanidhi’s comment that his party would talk on Sanatan Dharma for a 100 years, she said, “you may talk and only talk.” No one may however indulge in violent acts and nobody should speak that could stoke violence, she asserted.
Sitharaman said she grew up in a Tamil Nadu where a garland of sandals was flung on Lord Rama’s portrait and a procession was taken out. Even now, she said she had anguish about it and recalled that event now with pain.
Still, it was Sanatan Dharma that did not respond with violence to even that. “That is Sanatan Dharma. We did not do anything like an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” In case some other religion had been targeted in such a manner, “you know what would have happened.” The Sanatan Dharma has “described” atheists, she said, apparently hinting at space for them within the broader framework of the religion and the way of life it stood for. Hence, non-believers within the Sanatan Dharma is nothing new.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)