The Tamil Nadu BJP today slammed the remarks of former minister and DMK leader A Raja about the revival of the statehood demand, made first by Thanthai Periyar -- the father of the Dravidian movement -- in the 1960s. "What he said was that Tamil Nadu wants to be away from India. A Raja's speech was seditious... What he said, within the context of Indian constitution, is an offence. Without a doubt, it is an anti-national comment," said state BJP chief K Annamalai.
At a meeting on Sunday, Mr Raja had said that the Centre should not push Tamil Nadu into making demands for statehood by reducing its autonomy.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi says all states are to be seen the same, and Home Minister Amit Shah says if you want unity, learn Hindi. The party's founding father Periyar, until [his] death, demanded a 'thani nadu'. But we (DMK) kept aside that demand for our democracy and national integrity," Mr Raja reportedly said in presence of Chief Minister MK Stalin.
"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," he was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.
Accusing the DMK of opening a "Pandora's box", Mr Annamalai said the topic was given to A Raja by the Chief Minister himself. "The intention and motive are clear. The Chief Minister was clapping. He could have clarified. He chose not to clarify. The Chief Minister failed his moral obligation and his moral obligation is higher than legal obligation," he added.
The DMK – which initially had a statehood demand but later moved away from it -- distanced itself from the former Union minister's comments. DMK spokesperson Constantine Ravindran said Mr Raja has made it amply clear that the party travelled on the path of Anna, fully supporting India's integrity and the principles of democracy.