After a massive controversy erupted in November over Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar’s pictures in saffron robes, the same row has resurfaced on Thursday, January 16, after the Vice President tweeted a picture of the poet in orange robes, and then later deleted it. VP Naidu later posted the same tweet with a picture of the poet in white robes. This comes as January 16 is celebrated as the Thiruvalluvar day.
After VP Naidu posted the picture of the legendary poet in orange/saffron robes on Thursday at 6:17 am, DMK MP Senthil Kumar took an objection to it and asked the VP to use the TN govt approved picture of Thiruvalluvar. He also asked the VP to remove the saffronized picture seemingly depicting the poet in religion and caste. Subsequently, VP Naidu deleted his old tweets and reposted the tweets in with Thiruvalluvar’s picture in white robes at 10:20 am.
Remembering great Tamil Poet, philosopher and Saint, Thiruvalluvar on his Jayanti today.#Thirukkuṛaḷ, authored by him provides guidance to mankind on how to lead a noble life. #Thiruvalluvar #Tamil pic.twitter.com/YETwVVcUlr— Vice President of India (@VPSecretariat) January 16, 2020
Considered as one of the greatest classics in #Tamil #Literature on morality, values and ethics, the treatise on a variety of subjects, including governance remains relevant for all times. #Thiruvalluvar— 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 Thiruvallur 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."