New chapter in TN-K`taka ties as Tamil poet`s statue unveiled
Last Updated: Sunday, August 09, 2009, 23:48
  
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 hereafter.

"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 experience".

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 India.

"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 said.

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 the function.

Bureau Report


First Published: Sunday, August 09, 2009, 23:48


Tag:
comments powered by Disqus