"By using unnecessary words with regard to some leaders or the Lankan Tamil issue, these people are not doing any good for the party," Stalin said.

TN Chief Minister Stalin at desk
news Politics Monday, February 07, 2022 - 18:52

In a virtual meeting with DMK IT cell members on Sunday, February 6, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK party chief MK Stalin addressed an ongoing issue of heightened Twitter abuse of political leaders, particularly Dalit leaders, Lankan Tamils and those who support the Eelam cause. Stalin was speaking to IT cell members in the run up to the urban local body polls in 200 wards. DMK is set to begin campaigning on Monday, February 7.

Stalin has addressed an issue that, at least on Twitter, seemed to be dividing supporters of the ruling party. “For some time now, comrades within our movement have been carrying out unnecessary actions. I don’t want to specify who they are at this point. By using unnecessary words with regard to some leaders or the Lankan Tamil issue, these people are not doing any good for the party. They are only giving us a bad name. Please stop doing this.”

The Chief Minister was likely referring to the many handles that, according to their Twitter bios, claim to believe in Dravidian ideas, and have been using pejorative terms to describe those who are pro the Eelam struggle. Some of the above-mentioned Twitter users have even gone to the extent of tagging Namal Rajapaksa, the son of now Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahindra Rajapaksa whose time as president during the final phase of the Civil War faces international scrutiny for war crimes against Tamils.

Often these Twitter handles also turn to name-calling and using slurs for leaders of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) — an extremely sensitive topic for many Tamil survivors of the war, and the organisation’s supporters in Tamil Nadu. While criticism is likely in political discussions, the vitriolic turn has upset Dravidian idealists who share the sentiments of Lankan Tamils about the Eelam issue.

Another trend noticeable among some of the abusive handles that also claim to be followers of ideologies set by Dravidian icons like Periyar and CN Annadurai, are attacks on Dalit leaders. The tweets target Thol Thirumavalavan, leader of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) or even tend to undermine the role of Dr Ambedkar in the social justice movement. It is to be noted that the VCK is an ally in the DMK-led coalition with four MLAs in the current Assembly.  

Stalin addressed these tendencies and said, “I am noticing these trends on social media, particularly on Twitter. Please stop doing this, please do not think that anything escapes my notice. The [Dravidian] movement has made many accomplishments. We have a great history. We have leaders who were idealists. It’s enough if you speak about all of these alone.”

The above clip seems to have been received largely positively, with many DMK supporters sharing and thanking the Chief Minister and DMK chief for his statement.

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