Bangalore: Unveiling a sort of statue
diplomacy, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka on Sunday buried 18 years of
bitterness when the bust of renowned saint-poet Tiruvalluvar
was opened in Bangalore by Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, raising hopes of heralding a new era of cooperation between the two states.
Karunanidhi and his Karnataka counterpart BS
Yeddyurappa, who took a personal initiative over a month ago
during a visit to Chennai to enable today`s ceremony near
Ulsoor lake in North Bangalore in a Tamil-dominated area,
hailed the event as a new chapter in the brotherly relations
between the two states.
Yeddyurappa, the man who ironically had whipped up
emotions on both sides of the border before the 2008 Assembly
elections ratcheting up opposition to Tamil Nadu`s proposal
for a drinking water scheme from the Hogenakkal reservoir,
said the event gave confidence that all problems between the
two states could be resolved through discussions.
As a reciprocal gesture, a statue of Kannada poet
Sarvagnya, who wrote 500 years ago, will be opened on August 13
in a Kannada-dominated area in Ayanavaram in Chennai at a
function by Yeddyurappa in the presence of Karunanidhi.
The opening of the statue of Tiruvalluvar, who wrote
couplets on all areas of life--politics, righteousness and
love, an idea conceived by the Bangalore Tamil Sangam, was
halted in its tracks since 1991 when the worst anti-Tamil
riots broke out in Bangalore and some other parts of Karnataka
after differences flared up between the two states over the
sharing of Cauvery waters.
Bedevilled by differences over Cauvery that spawned
problems over some other issues, the statue was kept under
wraps with police security as pro-Kannada outfits rake up
problems often. Their last-ditch efforts to stall today`s
ceremony were thwarted by an all-party consensus and
Karnaktaka High Court`s intervention.
The day was not without drama as 100 pro-Kannada
activists were arrested by police when they tried to protest
against the holding of the function and another small group of
activists made cuts in their hands to write their protests
with oozing blood.
At the function attended by ministers and political
leaders of two states and BJP leaders M Venkaiah Naidu and
Vijay Goel, Karunanidhi hailed Yeddyurappa`s initiative in
enabling the unveiling of the statue.
"During the last 18 years I used to tell anyone
inviting me to Bangalore that I will go there only if the
statute was to be unveiled. Today Yeddyurappa (67), whom he
described as younger brother, has helped me realise the
pledge," 86-year-old Karunanidhi, himself a distinguished
litterateur, told the gathering.
He said the unveiling of the two statues was not a
mere function but the opening of India`s heart and a model in
good brotherly relations between states for others to follow.
Responding warmly to Karunanidhi`s overtures,
Yeddyurappa said: "Today is a historic day in the annals of
Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Our relations will certainly improve
"Let people of both states live together and move forward
together. We are all sons of Bharat Matha. We are Indians
first and Kanndigas and Tamils next", he asserted, denouncing
protests from pro-Kannada outfits as "unwarranted".
In an apparent reference to opposition from some
outfits in Karnataka to the unveiling of Tiruvalluvar statue,
Karunanidhi said, "No one in Tamil Nadu is opposed to the
opening of Sarvagnya`s statue in Chennai. We in Tamil Nadu
have already read the writings of Sarvagnya and the Tamil Nadu
government had taken the lead in getting his works translated
into Tamil. Nobody in Tamil Nadu said he belongs to Karnataka
and so his statue should not not be unveiled in Tamil Nadu."
"We have been ready for Sarvagnya`s statue in Chennai
for long and preparations are over," he said.
He quoted from Sarvagnya`s works to say that the
Kannada poet was a revolutionary and forward-looking author
who had thought much ahead of his time. He wrote beyond the
barriers of caste and religion and against superstition.
Karunanidhi said the two poets also showed to the
world that they stood for humanity and people of these two
states were forward-looking in their views.
Hailing Yeddyurappa, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister
said that when he (Karnataka CM) was in Chennai for a medical
check up a month ago, he wanted to call on him. But
Yeddyurappa insisted on calling on Karunanidhi at his
residence saying he was "senior both in age and
That showed his manners and civility, he said.
In his speech, Yeddyurappa said the event showed
there were close bonds between the two states and the people
of the states were brothers. He said the two great poets
transcended barriers like caste and religion and they belonged
to whole of humanity.
He also said Bangalore was large-hearted and was home
to Tamils, Telugus, Malayalees and to those from rest of
"We have done all the arrangements in Chennai for
unveiling the statue of Sarvajna on August 13. We want
Yeddyurappa to be in Chennai on that day," Karunanidhi said,
extending a personal invitation to his Karnataka counterpart.
Saint poets such as Thiruvalluvar and Sarvajna were above
caste, religion and region and that`s what they preached, he
Yeddyurappa said the unveiling of the statues of two
renowned saints had the overwhelming support of people of both
the states including writers and intellectuals. He asked those
opposing the move to join the mainstream.
Union Minister for Communications and IT, A Raja, cabinet
colleagues of Karunanidhi and Yeddyurappa, besides legislators
from both the states, were also present on the occasion.
Senior BJP leaders -- H N Anantakumar, M Venkaiah Naidu
and Karnataka congress leader Siddaramaiah -- also attended