July 02, 2023

TN: Conference Held on Protecting Secularism & Constitutional Values

G Udayakumar

A SPECIAL conference aimed at safeguarding secularism and upholding the constitutional values was recently organised by the Tamil Nadu Platform for People's Unity at Royapuram, Arivagam Mandapam in Chennai. The conference emphasized the importance of protecting secularism and constitution and called for united efforts by all secular parties in India to overthrow the BJP government in the upcoming 2024 parliamentary elections.

In his address, Peter Phones, the chairman of the Minorities Commission in Tamil Nadu, criticised the prime minister's appeal to vote for the BJP by promising rapid development in the states. He highlighted the situation in Manipur as evidence contradicting the prime minister's claims. Currently, Manipur is experiencing widespread unrest, with instances of violence such as the torching and vandalism of the union minister's residence and even MLA's houses being targeted. He pointed out that the BJP is promoting violence along caste lines in various rural areas of Tamil Nadu. He urged the gathering to unite against communal forces and safeguard the secular values and constitutional principles of our nation.

Dr M Rajendran, the former vice-chancellor of Tamil University, who presided over the conference, highlighted the incongruity between Tamil culture and the ideologies of Sangh Parivar elements. He referred to a Tamil poet's words that emphasize the universal nature of birth for all living beings, contrasting it with the divergent ideologies of the RSS and BJP. Additionally, another poet, Kaniyan Poongundranar, expressed the notion of unity by considering all villages and towns as one and treating all individuals as kin. This contradicts the Sangh Parivar ideology.

Regarding the presentation of a sceptre to the prime minister by religious mutt leaders during the inauguration of the new parliament building, Dr Rajendran questioned its appropriateness. He said that the power to govern is given by the people, emphasizing that the sceptre should be given by the people themselves and not by religious mutt leaders.

SA Perumal, a senior leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), who also addressed the conference, stated that Hinduism had violently eradicated Buddhism and Jainism in India which are basically atheist in nature. He attributed this destruction to the fact that Buddha and Mahavir questioned the sanctity of Hindu ideology. Later, Buddha and Mahavir were made gods to suppress their ideology.

These two religions, which are fundamentally atheist in nature, were later co-opted and their founders were deified to suppress their original ideologies.

In the past, during the reign of Pushyamitra, a brahmin king, there were instances of incentivising violence against Buddhist monks, where a reward of hundred gold coins was offered to those who brought the head of a Buddhist monk. Furthermore, the brahmins played a role in restructuring the caste system, dividing it into four hierarchical folds and assigning shudras to serve the other castes. They even orchestrated a ritual to elevate a shudra king to the kshatriya caste by receiving a bowl of gold from the shudra king and performing yagnas to effect the conversion. Perumal appealed to join hands with secular forces in order to defeat the BJP in the upcoming elections.

During the conference, eight resolutions were adopted. These resolutions included demands for the removal of the governor of Tamil Nadu, citing his unbecoming conduct; condemnation of RSS-related atrocities against minorities after the BJP came to power; preservation of the constitution, which is being undermined by the BJP government; release of Islamic prisoners in Tamil Nadu who have completed 25 years of their prison sentences; gratitude towards the people of Karnataka for defeating a communal government and electing a Congress government; protection of Hindu temples in Tamil Nadu under the supervision of the HR and CE (Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments) department of the Tamil Nadu government; and condemnation of the BJP government in Manipur for its failure to contain ethnic and communal violence in the state, as well as its alleged instigation of attacks on Christians.

The gathering was warmly welcomed by Saravanan Tamilan. The programme was moderated by S Kumar, coordinator of Chennai Makkal Medai, and Jennifer Wilson, a journalist. The vote of thanks was delivered by Lilly Boy, expressing gratitude to all attendees and participants.

Several prominent individuals participated in the conference which included G Udayakumar, coordinator of Tamil Nadu Platform People’s Unity, Father M C Rajan, Balasubramaniam, Amir Khan, U Balaraman, Father Kumar, Mohammed Yusuf, Bishop, K Balakrishnan, Mansoor Khasifi, Ibnu Soud, SN Sikkandar and Inamul Hassan. They actively participated in the conference and contributed to the discussions surrounding the resolutions.