By Syed Ali Mujtaba
There is a media ‘dangal’ going on in Tamil Nadu between those who believe in god’s party and those who do not. A fictitious pro god party is created with a mission to attack godless parties, as a devised political strategy in an attempt to capture power in the state.
How far such political strategy to divide people between on god vs no god platform will succeed is something that can be tested only through a electoral contest but right now it’s time to watch a media ‘dangal’ between god vs no god people in Tamil Nadu
It all started with a little known person called Surendran Natarajan, an atheist who purportedly uploaded a video on its YouTube channel Karuppar Koottam (group of black people). Natrajan is alleged to have made ‘denigrating remarks’, about Lord Murugan, the popular Tamil god in his video.
The Tamil deity Murugan is the commander of gods and also known as god of war and victory. This deity has several names like; Skanda, Kumara and Subrahmanya, Kartikeya etc, and whose life story has many versions.
Surendran Natarajan through his YouTube channel ‘Karuppar Koottam’ made derogatory remarks about a prayer sung in his praise of Lord Murugan called ‘Kandha Sashti Kavacham’.
Some Hindu believers have alleged that remarks at “Karuppar Koottam” channel have hurt their feelings. They have taken this to social media to air their views and this has created uproar in the state making it look like a fight between people who are in god party vs those in no god party.
The noise of the “alleged hurt feeling” has twin objectives; one to sow seeds for dividing the Tamil society on religious lines and second after creating such rift to gain sympathy and facilitate BJP’s entry in the Dravidian heartland.
In order to execute this political project, the BJP is alleged to have propped up three musketeers as its forefront men. They are Maridhas, a controversial video blogger, Madhan Ravichandran, a former television journalist and Kishore K Swamy, a self-proclaimed political analyst.
These people lodged a complaint against Surendran Natarajan with a plea of hurt feelings. They have got Karuppar Koottam’ man arrested and saw to it that his office was sealed.
However, the Karuppar Koottam’ controversy did not end here and it was raked up further to attack some journalists with atheist faith. The champions of Hindutva have alleged that many journalists particularly those from TV 18 (Tamil) news channel have links with ‘Karuppar Koottam’ and are anti-Hindu.
The video blogger Maridhas has alleged that M Gunasekaran, editor of News18 (Tamil) has links with the Dravidar Kazhagam, the ideological fountainhead of the Dravadian parties. The Dravadian parties are followers of Erode Venkatappa Ramasamy, commonly known as Periyar, a well-known atheist who had started the Self-Respect Movement and a revered figure in Tamil Nadu.
Maridhas claims that 70% of News18 employees are supporters of DK or DMK. To prove his point, Maridhas in his social media post refers to an incident that took place in April 2018. Then a group of journalists protested against BJP leader, S.Ve.Shekher for allegedly derogatory remarks against the women journalists in the state.
BJP’s S Ve Shekher had slammed women journo in his Facebook post with his sexist remarks; ‘You sleep around for work.’
Maridhas has claimed that most of the journalists who protested at S.Ve.Shekher’s residence were from News18.
Maridhas has also alleged that one senior journalist Haseef Mohammed of News18 has links with ‘Karuppar Koottam’ the YouTube channel. Maridhas in a social media post published a doctored photograph of Haseef with ‘Karuppar Koottam’ poster a question ‘Is he Haseef’?
Maridhas’ call for action against the TV journalists has evoked hundreds of emails. He forwarded those mails to the News18 top brass, demanding to purge “pro-DK, pro-DMK elements” from the Television news channel owned by Mukesh Ambani.
After the deluge of emails from Maridhas, the News18 (Tamil) is said to have conducted an internal inquiry and reportedly have made some changes in the hierarchy at its newsroom and has even asked some journalists to resign, including Haseef Mohammed.
The e-mails later turned out to be fictitious. The Chennai Cyber Crime Branch has registered a case of forgery against unnamed people for creating and circulating a fake email.
The case was registered based on a complaint by Vinay Sarawagi, Associate Execute Editor of News18. Sarawagi has alleged that Maridhas had forged his promotional email ID, and has shared it on social media to claim that News18 has accepted his allegations and taken action against its staff members.
This kind of protest by Maridhas and his associates has created uproar in Tamil Nadu journalist circle and is seen as an attack on those having Periyarist ideological leanings.
It is reported that some of the journalists who are now being attacked are on the BJP’s “Hit List.” This list was prepared by the Tamil Nadu wing of the BJP and submitted to the party high command in New Delhi in 2019.
The grapevine has it that it’s the BJP that is the main force behind raking up this god vs non god controversy in Tamil Nadu. Its central leadership is pulling the strings from New Delhi using its puppet regime in the state to tame the journalists.
The fictitious battle between god vs no god is a poly by the BJP to gain any political muscle in the state. The saffron party has propped up some people in the state to take potshots at some journalists with the mission to forge religious alignment that may help in facilitating BJP’s entry in the state.
It appears that the plan of the BJP against those opposing the BJP-RSS’ ideology is working well in the state. After bullying the YouTuber and Tamil journalist, the fight is now taken to the DMK turf, the party waiting to get into power. The BJP is engaged in a verbal battle bullying the DMK to make statements against the sympathizers of ‘Karuppar Koottam’ and also against those who are followers of the Periyar ideology.
The DMK seems to be watching this game plan of the BJP, not as an spectator but as a political player. The Dravadian party is cashing on the mudslinging faces of the BJP, first as YouTuber bashers, then hate journalists mongers and now building a political campaign to uproot the Dravidians from its homeland.
The BJP’s strategy to discredit others to promote itself, may have worked well in north India but it hardly has any takers in Tamil Nadu.
Little they realize that what works in this Dravidian heartland is solid work on the human development indexes and not empty rhetoric and religious bogey to capture power in this state.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org