Anti-Hindu rhetoric nothing new for atheist DMK chief

Hindu-bashing is nothing new for Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, an avowed atheist who has been peddling the rationalist principles of his mentor Periyar. While this time, his excuse for lashing out at "religious fanatics" seems to be the threat of a "150-year-old-Tamil dream" being shelved, the octogenarian Chief Minister has needed no provocation in the past to lash out at Hindu believers.

Once a furious Karunanidhi slammed a colleague, a minister then, for doing the 'fire walk' ritual in a Durga temple and described his act as kaatumirandithanam (barbaric) and even threatened action against him.

Some years back, Karunanidhi drew the ire of some sections when he reportedly called Hindus thieves. "Do Hindus have a religion? Who is a Hindu? If you ask some right thinking people they'll say that Hindu actually means a thief. I do no consider that to be a despicable thief, but a thief who has stolen the hearts," Karunanidhi had stated while addressing a public meeting in 2002 organised by minority outfits to protest the anti-conversion ordinance of the then Jayalalithaa Government. The reference even embarrassed some minority leaders sharing the dais.

However, Karunanidhi clarified that he had merely quoted from a Hindi Encyclopedia published from Varanasi. "It had defined a Hindu as cruel, servant and bandit. Nevertheless, I chose to ignore that definition and softened it to mean as thieves of hearts," he said.

But on the Ram Sethu issue, Karunanidhi has been unrelenting in his remarks against Lord Ram, even going to the extent of bringing up references apparently made by Valmiki about the mythological hero's drinking habits.

While the CM is likely to get all-round support at an all-party meet he has convened on September 24 to drum up support for the project in the state, there are few in Tamil Nadu, including his own allies, who would like to publicly endorse his views on Lord Ram. But the DMK chief is banking on the wide-spread belief that the project would usher in a major economic boom in the southern districts.

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