While the controversy over lyricist Vairmuthu referring to seventh century mystic and Alvar saint Andal as a 'devadasi' is yet to die down, another storm over Rajya Sabha MP M Kanimozhi's statement is already brewing.
The Hindu Munnani has filed a complaint with Chennai Police Commissioner against the DMK leader for her remarks on Tirupathi Venkatachalalpathy.
In the World Atheist Conference in Trichy over three days back, Kanimozhi describes her visit to the Tirupathi temple, a famous destination for Hindus across the country.
She says that she along with other MPs were taken to the temple by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu when they were part of a Home Affairs Committee. Kanimozhi praises the manner in which the institution runs but then goes to question devotees' belief in the god.
"It is a very well run institution and we have a lot to learn. I give it to them," says Kanimozhi. "Since we were all MPs, we were provided a special way to see the god. They say everyone is equal in front of god but that is a lie. If you give more money and buy ticket you get special dharsanam. If not, you stand for 10 hours, 20 hours or two days. That is god," she adds.
She then goes on to explain how one MP who was accompanying them pointed out to her that while she says there is no god, so many people are waiting long hours to see this god. "He told me that all their wishes are being granted and they are being protected. How can I not believe in god?" she says. "I then asked him, there is a hundiyal (money collection box) right in front of the god. Why is there a security personnel with a stun gun protecting it? People who run the temple are not confident that god can protect the hundiyal. Why should I believe in god?" she asks.
"Those who look at us and call us non-believers – I have a question for them. It’s true, none of us here believe in god, you (the audience at the atheist conference) don’t believe in god. But those who claim to be believers, do they actually believe? For one, you say there is no god except your own. I’m just saying even that one god doesn’t exist. That’s all," she said.
While Kanimozhi's speech is in line with the Dravidian ideology that emphasises on atheism, members of the Hindu Munnani allege that it hurts religious sentiments.
"Since the BJP has come to power in the Centre, people are more willing to take on such distasteful statements," says Elangovan, Chennai President of Hindu Munnani. "As an MP, it is her duty to treat everyone equally. So how can she talk in this manner against the sentiments of one community?" he asks.
He further labels both Vairamuthu and Kanimozhi as anti-social elements.
"We are seeing the backlash that Vairamuthu is facing from the public following his comments. Politicians, temple administrators and the general public are furious because he has hurt sentiments of devotees. People who speak against the religious beliefs of the majority are definitely anti-social elements," says the Hindu Munnani leader. "The Commissioner has promised us action against Kanimozhi. We believe that the law will bring us justice," he adds .
When TNM contacted Kanimozhi she was unfazed by the opposition that the speech has garnered. "Whatever happens, I will face it legally. I said this at an Atheist Conference," she says.