West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee unveiled the statue of late M Karunanidhi at the Murasoli office in Chennai on Wednesday (August 7), on the first death anniversary of the DMK stalwart.
In what was seen as a coming together of an anti-BJP alliance, Mamata and DMK president MK Stalin, Karunanidhi’s son, tore into the Narendra Modi government at the Centre over the abrogation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
After unveiling the statue, Mamata Banerjee paid tributes to the late leader at the Anna Memorial on Marina beach where Karunanidhi, fondly known as Kalaingar, was laid to rest beside his mentor CN Annadurai.
Addressing a meeting at the YMCA Grounds, Mamata started off in broken Tamil, but shifted to English, stating that she was not good at the language, but added that she would learn it soon.
Mamata said leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, BR Ambedkar, MG Ramachandran and M Karunanidhi fought for the people.
“We can also fight atrocities, dictatorship, and fascism. We can sacrifice anything for our motherland, even ourselves, but we cannot sacrifice our motherland,” she said.
Referring to the Centre’s move on Kashmir, she expressed concern over the safety of J&K leader Farooq Abdullah, National Conference president and MP, who was reported to be under house arrest, but denied by Home Minister Amit Shah.
Abdullah, who was one of the invitees for the event, could make it to the event due to the prevailing situation in J&K.
“He was seen crying in a video, saying he was not able to go to his daughter’s house. He did not come to the event and his whereabouts are not known,” Mamata said.
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Attacking the BJP, she said the party is behaving like it can take any decision. “But, if they are taking any decision about Tamil Nadu, they should take into confidence the people of Tamil Nadu. If they are taking any decision about West Bengal, they should take into confidence the West Bengal people.”
“Karunanidhi always fought for state autonomy. We are Indians, but we all are born in a state. We have a mother tongue, we have our own identity. We would fight to preserve it,” she said.
Praising Karunanidhi for naming his son Stalin, after the Russian revolutionary leader, Mamata said Stalin was also clever and named his son as Udhayanidhi. “Because, in Bengali, Udhay means rising,” she said.
We need Kalaignar now more than ever: Stalin
In his speech, Stalin said Karunanidhi used to remember Anna (as Annadurai is fondly called) during his last days when he was critically ill.
Stating that Periyar stands for rationalism and self-respect, Anna stands for Tamil language and Dravidian ideology and Kalaingar stands for social justice and state autonomy, he said “it is now that we need Kalaingar more than ever” because they (BJP) are destroying every essence of the reservation policy brought to uplift socially deprived people”.
Attacking the Centre’s recent 10% reservation policy for economically weaker section of forward castes, he said those who once mourned stating that reservation had spoilt the quality of education were now celebrating.
Hailing DMK MPs for actively debating and opposing on various issues in both the houses of Parliament, Stalin said, “No one need to teach us nationalism. When there was a threat from China and Pakistan, Tamil Nadu stood with India. But now in the name of nationalism, BJP is spreading communal hatred and diving the people in communal lines.”
On Centre’s move on Jammu and Kashmir, Stalin said the DMK would oppose the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir until an elected body is formed in the state.
Poet Vairamuthu who addressed the gathering said Karunanidhi is alive through his philosophy and thoughts he left for the society.
Lauding the five-time chief minister, Vairamuthu said on Independence Day, chief ministers should hoist the national flag and salute him also because it was he who fought with then-prime minister Indira Gandhi to let chief ministers of states hoist the tricolour.
Earlier, DMK leaders and workers took out a peace rally to observe Karunanidhi’s first death anniversary and paid floral tributes at his memorial in Marina beach in Chennai.