Udhayanidhi Stalin, serving as the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs in the Tamil Nadu government, has come under intense scrutiny and criticism for his recent statements regarding Sanatan Dharma.
Udhayanidhi Stalin, who serves as the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs in the Tamil Nadu government and is the son of Chief Minister MK Stalin, ignited a political controversy with his recent comments regarding ‘Sanatana’ (Sanatan Dharma). His remarks equated ‘Sanatana’ with “mosquitoes, Dengue, Malaria, fever, and Corona,” suggesting it should be eradicated like these diseases.
Sanatan Dharma has traditionally been described as an “eternal” religion, offering followers of Hindu faith the freedom to worship any deity of their choice, as stated by organizations such as the Isha Foundation. ISKCON defines Sanatan Dharma as a set of religious duties binding on all Hindus, transcending temporary belief systems.
Udhayanidhi, holding the portfolio of Sports and Youth Affairs, made these comments during a conference, drawing sharp criticism from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), his political party, defended him, asserting that his statement had been misconstrued. Leaders from the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, an opposition bloc of which DMK is a part, urged political figures to refrain from making such statements.
Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar condemned Udhayanidhi’s comments, stating that he believed his wealth and dynastic position allowed him to insult thousands of Indians and Tamil Nadu residents. Chandrasekhar referred to Udhayanidhi as a “spoiled brat” and criticized his lack of work experience.
BJP Spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla expressed concern over what he viewed as a genocidal call, which he claimed had been supported by Karti Chidambaram of the Congress party. He questioned whether this was an expression of love or hatred.
K. Annamalai, Tamil Nadu BJP president, emphasized the significance and antiquity of ‘Sanatana Dharma,’ stating that it predates other religions such as Christianity and Islam. He condemned Udhayanidhi’s statement, characterizing it as an attempt to incite hatred and undermine a particular culture.
Congress leader Acharya Pramod observed that there has been a persistent effort over the centuries to erase ‘Sanatan Dharma,’ but it has endured.
Congress leader Rashid Alvi expressed concern over the trend of political leaders making derogatory remarks about Hindus and called for respect for all religions in India.
Keshav Prasad Maurya, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister, condemned efforts to disrupt social harmony and cautioned against making religious statements.
Manoj Jha, a Rajya Sabha MP and RJD leader, suggested that some expressions might require deeper interpretation.
AAP Leader Sanjay Singh emphasized India’s diversity and the need to respect all religions, urging people not to make derogatory comments about other faiths.
Amid the escalating controversy, the DMK defended Udhayanidhi’s remarks, stating that they had been taken out of context and twisted. The party argued that the comments did not advocate genocide but were aimed at addressing caste-based divisions associated with ‘Sanatana Dharma.’
Udhayanidhi subsequently clarified his stance, denying any call for “genocide.” He explained that his intention was to highlight the caste-based divisions perpetuated by ‘Sanatana Dharma’ and advocate for human equality and humanity.