On the eve of D-day with SC, Karunanidhi’s Hindi avatar

With heat building up on M Karunanidhi over his remarks on Ram, the DMK chief whose party rose on the Dravidian political horizon on a strong anti-Hindi plank, in an unprecedented gesture, yesterday recited a poem in Hindi at a public meeting.

Of late, Karunanidhi had taken note of the reactions generated by his anti-Ram tirade and had been toning it down at functions. He could be heard telling the audiences in districts that he was not an enemy of Ram, but Ravana.

But few expected the "turnaround" in Chennai last night, in the presence of alliance leaders, when Karunanidhi suddenly broke into a Hindi poem:"Hindustan hai desh hamara, janse apne humko pyara Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isaai, aapas main hain bhai bhai Bhai hoga bhai hamara, aisa hoga chalan hamara (India is our country and we love it more than our lives. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians are all brothers. Brothers will be brothers, such will be our conduct)."

While the public meeting was directed against "religious fanatics" for invoking the name of Ram to stall the Sethusamudram project, "which would benefit not just Tamil Nadu but the whole of India", Karunanidhi's sudden recital of a verse in Hindi proved to be the highlight.

Apart from DMK members, leaders from allied parties were present at the meeting and it was meant to be a prelude to the Monday bandh, which was later changed to a hunger strike following the Supreme Court order.

Political observers acknowledged that it must have been the first time that Karunanidhi was speaking in Hindi on a public platform. The move could also have been intended to soothe his UPA allies, some of whom have openly expressed displeasure at his harsh anti-Ram stand.

It's not lost on anybody here that this is the same party that when it came to power in 1967, abolished Hindi in schools and colleges as one of its first gestures.

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