Tejasvi Surya is one of the brightest men in public life today. He is young, educated and intelligent. He is a good speaker and can carry an audience with ease. He is a lawyer by profession and a trained Carnatic musician. When such a man goes communally partisan, it can only be described as a tragedy. Tejasvi's latest adventure into communal politics gives a Hindutva viewpoint even to corona and oxygen.
Hospital beds being allocated to Muslims is the newest problem worrying him. The Bangalore corporation has what is called a war room that handles the distribution of its health facilities. Surya says that there is "a nexus of certain BBMP officers and certain frontline hospitals and certain agents who have organised a bribes-for-bed scam".
He must be right on that point, considering the way corruption has overtaken every activity in our lives. But he goes off tangent when he says that there is a Muslim conspiracy behind the scam. On the basis of his convenient data, there are 17 officials in the Corporation who are responsible for the scam and all of them are Muslims. Why were so many from the same community appointed in the war room, he asked. The war room has a total staff of 212. He just picked 17 of them.
The Alternate Law Forum stepped in to provide a sense of perspective. We are all together in this, said its spokesman. "Some politicians are trying to sow the seeds of hatred. We don't need hatred. We need oxygen." A citizen named Aparna shamed hate-mongers with her common sense. She said: "Just because there are 173 Hindus, the war room will not become a mutt. The 17 Muslims won't make it a madrasa either."
That is what most citizens think. Which shows that the efforts of men like Surya to communalise the general population have not succeeded. Nor will they succeed ever. Surya, a good South Indian, must ask himself why his political ideology has not found in South India the fertile ground it found in the North.
The North-South divide is more than the political confrontation it appears to be. It has deep ethnic roots the significance of which is not yet fully understood. New Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin's ascent provided the occasion to see this in a new light. In his Twitter profile, Stalin noted that he belonged to "the Dravidian stock". CN Annadurai, who worked out the DMK's original philosophy, was a thinker of the classical kind. He rose to power as the Delhi Government's "Hindi imposition" policy led to the disappearance of the Congress (the party of power in those days) from Tamil Nadu.
Annadurai presented his thesis in a style that conveyed the historical importance of the occasion. It was his maiden speech in Parliament (1962) and he said: "I claim Sir to come from a country, a part of India now, but which I think is of a different stock, not necessarily antagonistic. I belong to the Dravidian stock. I am proud to call myself a Dravidian. That does not mean I am against a Bengali or a Maharashtrian or a Gujarati. As Robert Burns said, 'A man is a man for all that.' I say I belong to the Dravidian stock only because I consider that Dravidians have got something concrete, something distinct, something different to offer to the nation. Therefore, it is that we want self-determination." A chief minister may be called Stalin. He may have a Nehru and a Gandhi in his cabinet. They are all of proud Dravidian stock.
Tejasvi Surya is intelligent enough to understand the logic of the Dravidian stock demanding its place in the sun. But ideological blindness makes him say something as idiotic as: "If Tamil has to survive, Hindutva has to win." Tamil has survived millennia to become the world’s oldest living language. And Hindutva, because of its North Indianness, has gained little political mileage in Tamil country.
Ideological myopia makes intelligent people say unintelligent things. Thus, Surya says: "DMK is anti-Tamil because it represents a bad anti-Hindu ideology." What an upside-down view. It takes guts of a perverse kind to say that DMK is anti-Tamil, whatever the logic.
But Surya gave the game away when he expanded further. He said, with the confidence of a devotee: "Only a government under Modi leadership can work for young people's benefit in Tamil Nadu." What a pity that the young people of Tamil Nadu have not understood what’s good for them. Maybe bhakts should get together and revive the old gramophone label HMV - His Master’s Voice. Remember Surya is a Carnatic maestro.