Box of Lies: DMK’s youth wing launches initiative to fight ‘hate propaganda’
The DMK’s youth wing, led by Udhayanidhi Stalin, has launched an initiative called ‘Poi Petti’ (Box of Lies) to address the “hate propaganda” of the BJP and right-wing groups, with an aim to not just expose their “lies” but also inform people about the rich history of the Dravidian movement and the party.
The monthly initiative will be held at Anbagam, the youth wing’s office in Chennai’s Anna Salai. Those participating in the programme will have to write down their doubts and questions on a form, and put those in a box, called Poi Petti (Box of Lies). An expert, senior leader or an eminent person will then answer the questions and clarify the doubts.
The move comes amid the recent controversy over superstar Rajinikanth’s remark that Dravidian ideologue Periyar and Dravidian leaders had taken out undressed figurines of Lord Ram and Sita with a garland of sandals. The Dravidian outfits have however refuted the claims and said that someone in the crowd had thrown sandals at the idols.
This has triggered a number of rumours, one of which said that Periyar had married his own step-daughter Maniammai. It was also said that DMK patriarch late M Karunanidhi’s original name was Dakshina Murthy, and that he had changed it to lure Tamils.
A senior office-bearer of the DMK’s youth wing said the initiative was launched to address the “hate propaganda of the BJP and the Hindutva off-shoots”.
“Instead of getting into a verbal war with our opponents, either online or offline, we would address their false statements in a more productive way. When the chief guests answer the questions, the participants would not only know the truth, but also come to know about the rich history of the Dravidian movement and the DMK,” the office-bearer said requesting anonymity.
The guests would be from various walks of life, like politicians, journalists, former bureaucrats, Dravidian researchers, et al, he added. “Even our own workers fall prey to such lies sometimes. In order to clear their doubts, we organised this programme. We see this as an opportunity to encourage our cadre to raise questions,” said the office-bearer.
“The seating capacity of the auditorium in Anbagam is 250. So we selectively invite the participants who are mostly our cadre. We select those who are active on social media. In the morning session, we train them to use social media in a more effective manner. In the evening, they attend ‘Poi Petti’ program where they get their doubts clarified,” the office-bearer said.
“We upload videos of the program on social media so that those who could not attend the program can also benefit,” he said, adding that after Udhayanidhi’s rise to the post of general secretary of the youth wing, its social media accounts have started getting more visibility and traffic.
However, political commentator Tharasu Shyam termed the initiative as ‘old wine in new bottle’. When asked about it, he said, “When criticised, Annadurai and Karunanidhi used to give befitting replies through the party organs. Then came television, and now social media. So, only the tool of communication has changed. There’s nothing new about this initiative”
He also expressed doubt on how effective countering through social media would be at political level. “It is after the 2008 US Presidential polls, democracies around the world started using social media more effectively. Political parties in Tamil Nadu have been using social media vigorously only in the last years. ‘Poi Petti’ can give some mileage, but it’s not a game-changer itself,” added Shyam.
The first ‘Poi Petti’ programme was held last December in which journalist Govi Lenin was the chief guest. The second was organised last week and politician Nanjil Sampath was the chief guest.
During the first programme in December, Lenin had discussed the rumour about Karunanidhi’s original name being Dakshina Murthy. “In Thirukkuvalai, the native of Karunanidhi, there’s a temple called the Dakshina Murthy temple. For long, Karunanidhi’s parents didn’t have a boy child and he was born only after they offered prayers at the temple.
“According to local tradition, whenever a child is born after offering prayers at the temple, the child is named Dakshina Murthy, irrespective of his or her sex. Thereafter, the child will be given to a relative for some time, and he will return to his original parents on a special occasion. This is called ‘thathu yeduthal’ (adopting a child).
“A formal ceremony is conducted to mark the return of the child, and that is when the late DMK patriarch was given the name ‘Karunanidhi’. It was his original name. He never tried to change his name from Dakshina Murthy as many believe,” said Lenin.