Analysis: Unraveling Udhayanidhi Stalin’s Continuous “Anti-Hindu” Statements

Udhayanidhi Stalin, Tamil Nadu,
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When Udhayanidhi Stalin persistently reinforces what is perceived as anti-Hindu rhetoric, there may be more beneath the surface than initially apparent.

Tamil Nadu’s religious demographics align with the rest of the country, with a majority of its voters identifying as Hindu. So, why did a statement by the state’s Minister of Youth Welfare and Sports Development, expressing a desire to “destroy Sanatan Dharma,” cause an uproar outside Tamil Nadu but barely register within?

Why did Stalin Junior, the son of Chief Minister MK Stalin and heir to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leadership, follow up with another statement, opposing the construction of a temple on the site of a demolished mosque?

Why did the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department and the police refuse to livestream the consecration of the Ram Temple and the singing of bhajans, citing oral orders?

The common thread in these questions is the Tamil Hindu voter’s tendency to set aside religious rhetoric when deciding whom to vote for. What does make a difference is caste pride, appeasement, the government’s delivery on essential services and promises, and, to some extent, how well the voter is incentivized.

The Tamil voter understands that DMK candidates will visit local temples ahead of elections, donating generously and ensuring the success of local festivals. Even in non-election years, the sitting MLA is expected to fulfill this obligation annually.

The Tamil voter is also aware that DMK politics, despite sounding modern and visionary, is rooted in caste, and the party will not disrupt the existing caste hierarchy for any reason. This has been evident since the days of former Chief Minister C Annadurai, who remained silent during the 1968 Kilvenmani massacre, where 44 Dalits were killed by upper caste Hindus. Not much has changed since then, as incidents like the one in Vengaivayal, where criminals contaminated Dalits’ drinking water, remain unpunished. Udhayanidhi Stalin or any DMK leader daring to speak on caste issues could jeopardize their political careers.

The Tamil voter understands that the DMK has constructed a massive propaganda machine over the past 60 years, with a stronghold on the Tamil film industry and the cable industry. The party also exerts influence through its members in the editorial positions of most Tamil language media.

This awareness may lead the average voter in Tamil Nadu to dismiss all rhetoric and focus on tangible outcomes from their vote. Some prioritize immediate financial gains, while others see voting as a means of holding errant politicians accountable. For many, it’s the acknowledgment that politicians will play a role in their lives during weddings, events, and even in death.

Approximately 30 percent of the electorate votes solely based on the party symbol, a number expected to decline as pragmatic considerations increasingly guide voting decisions.

This explains why ministers in the DMK cabinet can make disparaging remarks about Hindus while appeasing members of other religions. To many Tamil voters, such rhetoric is mere noise, meant to divert attention from issues like floods, unemployment, and growing challenges faced by the Tamil community. The DMK has proven adept at spinning narratives to its advantage.

Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author.

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