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Chennai: The Tamil Nadu government’s decision to celebrate the birth anniversary of 17th Century Madurai ruler Thirumalai Naicker has triggered a row with Tamil nationalists opposing the state celebration of a “Telugu” king.
Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa had announced that the government would celebrate Thirumalai Naicker’s birth anniversary on Thai Poosam day (January 24) in Madurai in a grand manner.
A legendary king in the history of Tamil Nadu, Thiru-malai Naicker (Circa 1584-1659) was known for his courage and grit and he was the most reputed of all the Madurai Nayak rulers, she recalled.
Tamil Nationalists argue that the Thirumalai Naicker rule saw imposition of Telugu as administrative language and neglect of Tamil language.
“Lands belonging to Tamils were taken away and lakhs of Telugu speaking people were settled on it. His rule also saw promotion of Sanskrit and Telugu at the cost of Tamil,” said K. Sakthivel, president of Makkal Maa-naadu Katchi.
He noted that during Thirumalai Naic-ker’s rule, Sanskrit mode of worship was introduced in the temples and Brahmins replaced Tamil priests.
“Celebrating Thirumalai Naicker’s birth anniversary as a government function is an insult to Tamils,” he said.
Pazha Nedumaran, leader of Tamil Nationalist Movement, said that it is inappropriate to celebrate the birth anniversary of kings in a democracy.
“We can celebrate anniversaries of poets and freedom fighters. The government should take efforts to promote the works of Sangam literature among the public. This will be more appropriate than celebrating some rulers,” he said.
He also noted that announcement being made in the fag end of AIADMK rule indicates that it is aimed at ensuing Assembly polls and to garner support of a particular community.