By Haider Abbas
There has been language ‘riots and conflicts’ with Tamil Nadu over imposition of Hindi over Tamil, which actually was a policy to make North India stake its hegemony over South and this simmering discontent has always been an over or a covert current, but this time this saber- rattling, has gone too far, as a mainstream Tamil Nadu politician and Member of Parliament A Raja, has threatened to make a ‘separate Tamil Nadu’. It has been reported in The Indian Express 1 on July 4, that ‘DMK MP Raja’s heated pitch on ‘separate Tamil Nadu’, autonomy sets off fiery row. The DMK MP and ex-Union minister, A Raja, in the Congress led Manmohan Singh government, has sparked a controversy by asking the BJP -ruled Centre not to compel the Dravidian party to revive the demand for a “separate Tamil Nadu” by denying state autonomy.’
It is interesting that A Raja took the occasion to speak when Tamil Nadu DMK Chief Minister MK Stalin was sitting on the stage, and this is what assumes significance, as it may be construed that CM MK Stalin too endorsed the same viewpoint. In fact Tamil Nadu, has long been into ‘complaints’ with Centre to have nudged it back, and this is solely in context to the tax-distribution-money to states by the Center, which has made Tamil Nadu bitter with New Delhi. A Raja has simply this time sought it from ‘Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to provide ‘State autonomy’ to Tamil Nadu, and not push them to seek an independent country, reported The Hindu 2 on July 4. A Raja evoked the Tamil icon EVR Periyar, who had started a Tamil Dravidian and anti-Brahmin movement and had sought an independent Tamil Nadu. “I am telling Amit Shah and the Prime Minister with utmost humility, I implore you in the presence of (our) leaders on the dais, our Chief Minister is journeying on the path of Anna (C.N. Annadurai, former Chief Minister and DMK founder), do not push us on the path of Periyar. Do not make us seek a separate country, give state autonomy and we will not rest till then. ” As obvious it invited s sharp reaction from BJP which rules at the Center, which called it a blatantly divisive and condemned the silence of CM Stalin on it. It may be mentioned that Anna, had supported India’s integrity and the principles of democracy.
Why A Raja, who was once accused of 2G scam, and later ‘cleared-off’ with charges, has been pushed to this extent, that he has even called for secession from India, is a big question, which not only needs to be understood but at the same addressed too. The bottom line is the policy of the Government of India to still fix the 2011 Census for the distribution of money to respective states. A Raja wants autonomy, like on the lines which India has granted in some North Eastern states, which may be referred as asymmetrical federalism, under which the state will remain a part of India in context to issues of defense, external affairs etc, but the issues of tax-collection and its expenditure and governance willall remain the jurisdiction of the state. On such issues Center would have no role. India does have such engagement for tribes, nomads etc on the lines of autonomous councils in Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura but perhaps Tamil Nadu is what seem to have ‘sought-too-much’, and since the rule of NDA 2.0, under PM Narendra Modi, whatever autonomy was granted under Article 370 of India’s Constitution, to JK&L, has been snatched since August 5, 2019.
Why under such circumstances Tamil Nadu seem to have stretched that far? As there hasn’t been any new agenda towards imposition of Hindi? The answer lies in the Tamil Nadu ‘scourge’ that despite its efforts to have drastically ‘controlled its population’, yet New Delhi, is continuing its mal-treatment as there is a wide disparity in the allocation of funds to Tamil Nadu. There are numerous news reports crying that Center is punishing Tamil Nadu and other South Asian states for population control by not giving due share in tax revenues.
The conflict in today’s context is the Center’s decision to ‘distribute its revenue’ based on 2011 Census which has of course drastically hit Tamil Nadu, and no wonder, it has come to light that Tamil Nadu has lost 80,000 Cr. in revenue tax share since 2014, informed TOI 3 on June 19, 2021. After this Center’s move the most potent beneficiaries are the states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan where there is a continued population explosion, so have the Southern States done wrong to control their population! But, at the same time, what may also be alarming is that politics inside Tamil Nadu has often flirted with the idea of getting outside the ambit of India, something which was also, sometime back, referred by MK Stalin himself, who as per a report in published in The Financial Express 4 on March 17, 2018, had conveyed his support for Dravida Nadu, ‘which all southern states will come together and form “Dravida Nadu”. This by any standard is a dangerous idea as that would include Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Pondicherry.
There has been no doubt a tradition of such blackmailing politics from inside Tamil Nadu quite off and on, unlike which is not found in states like Telangana etc but to demand for autonomy or else a separate Tamil Nadu will come into existence, is what the Center, with its particular ideology of nationalism, has to look into. How will Modi & Co. try to take-the-matter is what time is to tell, which is right now busy into celebrating the Amrit Mahotsav-the 75 years of India’s independence.
Let’s see if there is any coming twist in the Center-Tami Nadu relations?
The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner and writes on politics.