You're untouchable as long as you're Hindu: DMK's A Raja
A video of Tamil Nadu's ruling party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's (DMK) MP A Raja has stirred up a hornet's nest. In the clip, he can be seen allegedly saying those from lower castes would remain untouchable as long as they are Hindus. This has evoked sharp criticism from the Bharatiya Janata Party, with it accusing Raja of appeasement politics by targeting a specific community.
- Raja previously faced backlash several times over his controversial statements and alleged involvement in corruption.
- He was once considered the face of the alleged 2G scam. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) claimed the 2G spectrum allocation process in 2007-08—when Raja was the Telecom Minister—resulted in a Rs. 1.76 lakh crore loss to the public exchequer.
- However, a Delhi court acquitted him in 2007.
The video is reportedly from an event Raja addressed last week in Namakkal, Tamil Nadu, where he brought up the subject of casteism in Hinduism. Even pointing a finger at the Supreme Court, the Nilgiris MP alleged if a person doesn't identify as Christian, Muslim, or Persian, the top court deems them Hindu. He termed this as an injustice of the highest order.
Speaking in Tamil, Raja further says that a person is either a Shudra, a prostitute's son, a Dalit, or an untouchable only until they are Hindu. He then encourages those present to "ask such questions aloud to destroy the root of Sanatan Dharma." He also urged Murasoli and Viduthalai, the mouthpieces of the DMK and Periyar's Dravidar Kazhagam, respectively, to raise these issues.
Sorry state of political discourse in Tamil Nadu. @arivalayam MP has yet again spewed hatred against one community with the sole aim of appeasing others.— K.Annamalai (@annamalai_k) September 12, 2022
Very very unfortunate mindset of these political leaders who think they own Tamil Nadu. pic.twitter.com/UntspDKdQ3
After the video blew up on the internet, the BJP accused the DMK and Raja of being anti-Hindu. Raja, however, retorted by asking critics why the Shudras were insulted in Manusmriti and "denied equality, education, employment, and temple entry." Terming the Dravidian movement as the savior of 90% of Hindus, he rebutted the accusations of being anti-Hindu.
Who are Sudras? Are they not Hindus? Why they have been insulted in Manusmrithi denied equality, education, employment and Temple entry. Dravidian Movement as saviour of 90% Hindus questioned and redressed these, cannot be anti-Hindus.— A RAJA (@dmk_raja) September 13, 2022
Notably, the Dravidian movement and Dravidar Kazhagam were social reform movements that sought to dismantle the caste system and untouchability. The Manusmriti is an ancient Hindu scripture that purportedly canonized caste stratification, classifying Brahmins as the highest and Shudras as the lowest rung in the Varna arrangement. Dalits or untouchables were not included in the Varna system, relegating them to the worst social position.