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DMK brings back boards with Thirukkural verses in government buses

The Transport Department has completed works for displaying boards with ‘Thirukkural’ couplets and their explanations in all government buses.

Published: 26th July 2021 04:35 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th July 2021 04:35 AM   |  A+A-

Thirukkural couplets are now being pasted in MTC and other State run buses. A scene inside a bus in Broadway Bus Depot

Thirukkural couplets are now being pasted in MTC and other State run buses. A scene inside a bus in Broadway Bus Depot | DEBADATTA MALLICK

Express News Service

CHENNAI:  After making the subject of federalism a focal point of politics recently by addressing the Government of India as Ondriya Arasu (Union government) instead of Mathiya Arasu (Central government), the DMK government has now taken many symbolic measures to infuse Tamil identity in public spaces.  

The Transport Department has completed works for displaying boards with ‘Thirukkural’ couplets and their explanations in all government buses. The boards contain a picture of poet Thiruvalluvar in white attire along with the chapter name and number of the couplet displayed.

 Though the government buses have been displaying Thirukkural verses since 1968, the new government has decided to replace the boards with ones containing the verses and explanations. “This will surely invoke a sense of Tamil identity in public places. Promoting literary figures to infuse Tamil identity in public places is part of DMK’s agenda to fortify its ideological credibility,” says political commentator Raveenthran Duraisamy.

He added that the late DMK supremo M Karunanidhi had installed a gigantic 133-foot statue of poet Thiruvalluvar in Kanniyakumari with the same objective. “The present government is taking the party’s five-decade old strategy forward as the BJP is trying desperately to make inroads in the State,” he further said.

According to Tamil scholars, Thirukkural was first displayed in a bus operated from MLA Hostel (Chepauk) to the Secretariat in 1967. One year later, in response to a Congress MLA’s question, then chief minister CN Annadurai explained the significance of Thirukkural and subsequently announced that portraits of Thiruvalluvar would be displayed in local body offices and schools. “The then DMK government also ordered displaying of Thirukkural couplets along with an authorised portrayal of Thiruvalluvar in all government buses. Since then, a two line text of ‘Kural’ in Tamil has been put up behind the driver’s seat in the buses.

The G.O then had stated that the move was aimed at inculcating the spirit of Thirukkural among government employees and public. However, of late, the stickers displaying ‘Kural’ were replaced with private advertisements and quotes from religious texts. In this situation, the present government ordered that the couplets will be displayed on new boards in all buses. This is also expected to put an end to the controversy over portrayal of Thiruvalluvar in saffron attire.

In 2019, a picture of Thiruvalluvar clad in a saffron robe was posted by BJP and few other right-wing organisations on social media. The DMK, Tamil scholars and other organisations strongly opposed the act of attaching religious identity to Thiruvalluvar. During the last two years of AIADMK government, pictures of Thiruvalluvar clad in saffron were put up at several government offices. They were all taken down following protests by the then Opposition parties. In February this year, the DMK and PMK had expressed opposition to a picture of the saint-poet in saffron robes along with sacred thread in a CBSE Class 8 textbook.



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