Coimbatore: Convened to showcase the history of one of the world`s oldest languages, the Classical Tamil Conference is seemed to have ended up being yet another show
of strength by ruling DMK ahead of next year`s assembly polls.
Political commentators and opposition leaders in Tamil Nadu feel the five-day conference, curtains on which came down today, was primarily the DMK`s "family show" and saw only the praise of Chief Minister M Karunanidhi who had left no stone
unturned to make this meet a reality.
The conference, which was inaugurated by President Pratibha Patil on Wednesday, also clearly demonstrated the organising skills of two members of the DMK`s first family --
Deputy Chief Minister MK Stalin and party MP Kanimozhi.
While Stalin shuttled between Chennai and this industrial city to oversee the arrangements for the successful conduct of the conference, Karunanidhi`s poet-daughter Kanimozhi made sure that Tamil scholars from across the globe attend the meet
and present papers on various subjects.
Veteran journalist and political commentator Cho Ramasamy says the purpose of the conference was only to "praise and praise" Karunanidhi.
The venue and timing of the conference, just a year before the state goes to polls, is also significant as the DMK is trying to make `inroads` into the bastion of archrival AIADMK in east Tamil Nadu. The Opposition party had performed well in this region in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.
Many family members of Karunanidhi actively participated in the conference. While his grand daughter and daughter of Union Minister MK Alagiri, Kayalvizhi Venkatesh showed her poetic skills, another grand daughter Ezhilarasi enthralled the audience by her Veena recital.
AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa had yesterday said that the conference had only "sung the praise of Karunanidhi" and will not achieve anything tangible.
At least 20 scholars had presented research papers on Karunanidhi and his works. Only a few papers were presented on the Tamil language, the theme of the conference.
A Tamil scholar himself, Karunanidhi has never missed an opportunity to highlight his language skills or express strong pro-Tamil feelings.
He was seen criss-crossing the 20 venues, where poet meets, seminars and symposiums on Tamil had been organised. Speakers after speakers heaped praise on him for organising the conference.
K Sivathambi, a Tamil scholar from Sri Lanka, convenor of the academic sessions, went to the extent of describing Karunanidhi as "World Tamils leader" and requested him to take steps for development of Tamils the world over and mitigate their sufferings.
The remarks of Sivathambi, known for his pro-LTTE leanings, assumed significance in the wake of reports on plight of the internally displaced persons in Eastern and
Northern provinces of Sri Lanka, where the island army last year won the war against the LTTE.
DMK had always exploited its pro-Tamil image in the electoral scene and had in fact won the 1967 assembly polls ousting Congress, which was unable to come anywhere near
governing the state since then.
During that poll, DMK put the 1965 anti-Hindi movement as its main plank. The first DMK government headed by its founder CN Annadurai lost no time in organising a World Tamil Conference at Chennai in 1968, a year after it came to power.
Ever since, all the governments, either DMK or AIADMK in the state, were particular in organising a world Tamil Meet during their tenure.
AIADMK founder late MG Ramachandran hosted the meet at Madurai in 1981, in which then Prime Minister late Indira Gandhi said Jawaharlal Nehru`s assurance to non-Hindi speaking people that Hindi would not be imposed on them, would be implemented.
In 1993, Jayalalithaa hosted the conference at Thanjavur.
The present conference ahead of 2011 assembly polls, is in an area of `Kongu` belt or eastern Tamil Nadu where DMK is still unable to make enough electoral inroads even in the last Lok Sabha polls. Coimbatore, Triuppur, Erode and Pollachi, all located in the belt, returned AIADMK-led front nominees.
Though Karunanidhi had instructed his partymen not to make the conference a party affair, one could see a large number of DMK men, wearing the DMK red and black border dhotis, everywhere at the venue.
AIADMK and MDMK had boycotted the conference claiming that it was only a "publicity blitz" of the ruling party and nothing tangible would be achieved for the development of Tamil through the conference.