This isn’t a politician’s one-time rhetoric for political capital. Tarun Vijay’s devoted promotion of Tamil has made others envious of his commitment to the cause.

Tarun Tamil Vijay Why is the BJP MP from Uttarakhand obsessed with TamilImage: Tarun Vijay Facebook Page
news Politics Tuesday, July 28, 2015 - 05:30

If not for his accent, and that he was speaking in English, anyone listening to Rajya Sabha MP Tarun Vijay dish out one Thirukkural after the other and sing paeans for the Tamil language would think that it was a hardcore Dravidian Tamil fanatic who was on the other side of the line. Speaking to The News Minute from New Delhi, he says, “I am the adopted son of Tamil Thaai (mother).”

Earlier, responding to an email requesting his interview, he had begun his email thus, “Dear Thiru Ramanathan, Vannakam.”

This isn’t a politician’s one-time rhetoric for political capital. Tarun Vijay’s devoted promotion of Tamil has made others envious of his commitment to the cause. On July 22, as opposition parties interrupted the proceedings in the Parliament, Tarun Vijay, the former Editor of RSS mouthpiece Panchajanya, stood outside the entrance to the Parliament with a photo of Tamil poet and philosopher Thiruvalluvar, and a Tamil placard exhorting MPs to let parliament function. “Let Thiruvalluvar bless us and guide our path in the Parliament,” it read.  

 

Tarun Vijay outside Parliament, 

This is not the first time Tarun Vijay surprised his colleagues in the Parliament, and several others in Tamil Nadu, with his unexpected, unflinching and passionate support for the Tamil language. In November 2014, attending a felicitation function organized for him by famous Tamil poet and lyricist Vairamuthu, Vijay declared that there is no India without Tamil and Thirukkural. “I feel like I am working for Mother India when I work for Mother Tamil. Everyone should read Thirukkural, since it introduced India and Indians to the world,” he had said. He has been consistently lobbying for Tamil being accorded the status of a national language, even demanded for the same on the floor of the house. He has also supported the call for Tamil to be one of the official languages of the Madras High Court.

Earlier this year, he went on a ‘kural yatra’ across Tamil Nadu and even called for the compulsory learning of Thirukural in schools of northern India. He even presented a portrait of Thiruvalluvar to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister MM Syed once.

So why is the RSS-bred BJP MP from Uttarakhand, who was once the Editor of Panchajanya, obsessed with Tamil? “I think it was divine intervention which has led me to this campaign for Tamil,” says Vijay, “My first encounter with Tamil was at morning prayers as a child, when we were made to chant few Thirukkurals.” But after the agitation by several groups in north India couple of years back to introduce Hindi in the UPSC examinations, his resolve to promote Tamil strengthened, he says. “But I feel there was always a feeling in my mind that Tamil must get more attention,” he adds.

He even takes pot shots at his fellow MPs from the Hindi-belt over their hypocrisy in promoting Hindi. “I asked the other MPs, ‘Do you read Hindi newspapers? Do you buy Hindi books? Do you send your kids to Hindi medium schools?’ The quality of Hindi is so bad, but they want people in Tamil Nadu to learn Hindi,” he says. Ironically, Tarun Vijay was born and brought up in Dehradun and studied in a Hindi-medium school. “Why should we learn only about Vikramaditya and Ashoka? Raja Raja Chozha too was a great king. Do we give him the same importance as we give to other historical figures from north India?” he asks. His list of comparisons is long. He wants more of Andal and not just Meerabai. Amidst the noise around Jallianwalabagh massacre, he says the sacrifice of the Maruda Pandiya brothers and hundreds of other Tamils fighting against the British is lost. “Tamil is Indian civilizational heritage. Shame that many in north India got to know about Thiruvalluvar only after my campaign,” he says. He is so pro-Tamil that he even believes that the Dravidian protests in 1960’s against imposition of Hindi were not ‘anti-Hindi’, as it was commonly referred to, but a ‘Tamil assertion’ campaign.  

 

 

Thanks to his unwavering support for Tamil, he has made influential friends down south. “Vairamuthu is a close friend of mine,” he says. He has also rubbed shoulders with Kamal Hassan and Vijay. But the most encouraging lot have been his Tamilian colleagues in Delhi, “I have several friends in DMK and ADMK now. Kanimozhi introduced me to the works of Andal, Velu Nachiyar and also the Kamban Ramayana.” He says that Navaneethakrishnan once referred to him on the floor as ‘Tamil’ Vijay, not Tarun Vijay. He rattles-off names of several names of MPs from Tamil Nadu to make his point. “If only the BJP also thought like he does,” DMK spokesperson TKS Elangovan once remarked of his devotion to Tamil.

Vijay is far from being done with his campaign and says that this is just a small beginning. He is working towards constructing a Thiruvalluvar statue on the banks of Ganga river in Haridwar. He is opening a Tamil learning center in Dehradun, where he will be educating 50 adopted SC/ST children from Tamil Nadu.  He is also campaigning in colleges in the north and north-eastern states to encourage them to teach Tamil and Thirukkural. “More people will join, it will unite India,” he says.

So how good is his Tamil?

“I am trying to learn but I have very limited vocabulary. I am looking forward to the day when I can give a speech in Tamil in Parliament,” and then recites with strenuous passion, “Agara Mudhala Ezhuthellam Aadhi Bhagavan Mudhatre Ulagu,” the first Thirukkural which translates to, “Just as the alphabet ‘A’ is the beginning of all letters, God is the beginning for this universe.

Images: Tarun Vijay Facebook page, Wikipedia/by Docku

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