PM Modi took to microblogging website Twitter on Thursday and remembered the great Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar on his birth anniversary on January 16. In his tweet, PM Modi reiterated that Thiruvalluvar's work has given "strength to millions" of people. He also said that Thiruvalluvar inspired humankind to promote "social equality, justice and compassion".
I bow to the great Thiruvalluvar on his Jayanti. His rich thoughts and literary works give strength to millions. He inspires us to work towards social equality, justice and compassion.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 16, 2020
After a massive controversy erupted in November over Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar’s pictures in saffron robes, VP Naidu while remembering Thiruvalluvar on his birth anniversary posted his picture in a saffron robe. He later deleted it and posted an apology tweet. The tweet said that his staffer made a mistake with the earlier post.
The earlier tweet was posted by mistake by a staff of Vice President Secretariat and was deleted soon after it was noticed.— Vice President of India (@VPSecretariat) January 16, 2020
The Thiruvalluvar controversy started when the Bharatiya Janata Party's Tamil Nadu unit's Twitter handle posted a picture of poet Thiruvalluvar in saffron attire, vibuthi (sacred ash) smeared on his forehead and rudraksha mala, triggering outrage in certain quarters. The ideological debate initially kick-started on social media, between the left and right-wingers. The incident took place on the same day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a Thai translation of Thirukkural at a community event in Bangkok.
Just after this controversy broke out, a statue of Thiruvalluvar at Thanjavur district's Pillayarpatti village was smeared with cow dung by miscreants. BJP supporters claimed that Thiruvalluvar is Hindu and even his work Thirukkural has reference to many Hindu gods and so there's nothing wrong in giving the poet a saffron attire. Atheist commentators opposed this narrative and started sharing images of Thiruvallur with black clothes supposedly symbolizes atheism.
The back and forth kept trending on social media for days. Thiruvalluvar Day is celebrated in January in his honour after Pongal. But the legendary poet's origins and ideologies have been debated for centuries. This debate has often brought in a political tussle.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Chief MK Stalin said, "BJP trying to give saffron tone to Thiruvalluvar is a betrayal to Tamil language and BJP's attempt to show Valluvar in the saffron attire is trying to pull into their saffron clan."