Sunday, August 09, 2009

Naysayers welcome Tamil bard’s statue

Naysayers welcome Tamil bard’s statue

August 9th, 2009
By Our Correspondent

Bengaluru, Aug 8: When the veil comes off the statue of poet-philosopher Thiruvalluvar on Sunday, a shroud over the city’s cosmopolitan ethos will also be removed.
The shrouded statue for long symbolised the purported intolerance of Kannadigas to the language and culture of neighboring states. It also offered a handful of self-promoting activists an easy opportunity to play politics. Their aggressive speeches often set off panic among the 2.7 million Tamil speaking people in the city and shrunk hopes of harmonious relationship with Tamil Nadu.
On Sunday, however, these activists will not have a chance to set off trouble because most of them are in custody. Besides, they have been reduced to a minority because leaders of all political parties and litterateurs have decided to back the efforts of the chief ministers B.S. Yeddyurappa and M. Karunanidhi, to dismantle the wedge between both states.
The inauguration has been supported even by Jnanpith laureate U.R. Ananth Murthy, a vocal critic of Mr Yeddyurappa. “This is the only act of the Chief Minister where he has gone beyond ideology. It will strengthen the cosmopolitan image of the city as the government has accepted the statue. I know there are some people who are opposing it, but that is because they want to gain political roots (in Karnataka),” he said.
Another litterateur, Dr. M. Chidananda Murthy, who originally opposed the statue in 1991, has complimented the government this time around. “It is a fact that my friends and I opposed this statue in 1991 and at that point of time one of my friends even got a stay from the high court because a group of politicians from Tamil Nadu wanted a Central rule here on grounds that there were more Tamil-speaking people than Kannadigas. There are no such irrational demands now. If some leaders are opposing the statue, it is for their personal gains,” he said.
Interestingly, a reciprocal installation of statues of Thiruvalluvar (here) and Sarvajna (in Chennai) was originally the idea of a Congress government headed by S.M. Krishna. It was projected as an initiative to scale down tension between both states in the light of a long-drawn dispute over sharing water of the Cauvery. The plan did not take off, leaving differences on the boil.
“It is not appropriate to have a veil over a statue for such a long time. How can these people rake up cultural and linguistic disputes in a city which has a significant migrant population working in the IT and BT sectors,” queried former Minister Rani Satish who played a key role in pushing for the two-statue formula in 2001. She said the unveiling on Sunday will instill confidence among Tamil-speaking people who have lived under constant fear of assault since the riots in 1991 over sharing water of the Cauvery.

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