The chauvinistic tamil nationalism of the Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) (We, the Tamils party) is making a high-pitch rhetoric in Tamil Nadu. Led by former filmmaker Seeman, the party claims to be the only representative of native Tamils worldwide.
Though Tamil Nadu has strong roots of tamil nationalistic politics, with history of anti-hindi imposition struggle, the NTK has taken the pitch to a dangerous tune, with unrealistic promises, claims and allegations.
The party enjoys considerable support among the young, non-resident Tamils and claims to be the sole representative of native tamils. The party sees Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) leader, V Prabhakaran as their driving force and ideological guide.
The NTK has been targeting Dravidian parties for allegedly ruining the state, but it confines itself to criticising only the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), along with the Congress and the left parties.
The NTK’s silence on the political decisions of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and vice-versa raises suspicions over the intentions of the party.
The public speeches of various leaders of the NTK, including those of chief coordinator Seeman, a former filmmaker, have landed the party in trouble due to the use of abuses and derogatory comments.
IDENTITY AND IDEOLOGICAL BANKRUPTCY?
In Tamil Nadu, the identity of Dravidians and Tamils are considered one and the same. The NTK has been pushing to create a divide in this identity since the formation of the party and wants to isolate other linguistic minorities known to belong to the Dravidian race.
“I wonder if the NTK has any ideological clarity on what tamil nationalism is based on. They are contradicting the scientific findings as well”, says Senthil Vel, senior journalist and author of Tamil Kelvi.
“Several organisations and even political parties advocate Tamil nationalism, but NTK seems to have other ideas about it. In fact, what NTK propagates as tamil nationalism is contrary to the policies of the LTTE," he added.
The NTK officially accepts Chera, Chola and Pandya kings as their forefathers, but claims that Dravidians are different from Tamils. “Chera king ruled what is now Kerala. But the NTK refuses to consider all linguistic minorities as Dravidians," Senthil added.
The Aryan vs Dravidian politics has been a core ideology in the state, with parties including DMK claiming credit for pursuing such politics to achieve equality. The repeated reference by NTK leaders to the German dictator Adolf Hitler as the saviour of a ‘race’ is another dangerous trend visible.
Rajiv Gandhi, a former NTK leader and now a DMK spokesperson, accused the NTK of having a lack of ideological clarity. “The party does not know what nationalism is. Apart from quoting Lenin’s writings, the party has failed to understand the reality and has failed the people as well," he said.
“Even the LTTE leaders, including Anton Balasingham, have claimed that the Sri Lankan Tamils are indeed Dravidians. The official stand of the LTTE has also been the same which is evident from their submissions to the United Nations as well. But, the NTK contradicts this despite all historical evidence of race identity," Senthil said.
ABUSES, CLAIMS GALORE IN PUBLIC MEETINGS
In a speech made at a public meeting during the assembly elections in May 2021, Seeman claimed that the LTTE killed former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He went on to claim that the retaliation was in response to the atrocities of the Indian army in Sri Lanka. On the other hand, the LTTE has even rejected having any link with Rajiv’s murder.
Seeman used to make claims of his presence in the warfront with LTTE leaders during the final war in 2009.
Vaiko, the general secretary of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), who had close ties with the LTTE, accused the NTK leader of making false claims about his connections with the LTTE.
“Seeman's meeting with LTTE leader Prabhakaran lasted for only two minutes. His claims on being in the warfront and enjoying the hospitality of the Tigers are absolutely false. He is lying to the people of Tamil Nadu," Vaiko accused in a recent media interaction.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had recently raided former LTTE members for other activities. But Senthil feels that that the activities of NTK are setbacks to the Sri Lankan tamil community.
“At a time when different organisations and political parties are demanding the release of seven convicts of Rajiv murder case, such false and uncalled for claims of NTK are setbacks. Such claims affect the refugees living in the state as well," he added.
Durai Murugan, another leader of the party, has been arrested for his derogatory comments against M K Stalin, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister. Other leaders including Seeman have been booked for inflammatory speeches. The Tamil Nadu Congress Committee has demanded the arrest of Seeman for his comments on Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi.
HARD ON DMK AND SOFT ON AIADMK, BJP?
Despite the high pitch campaigns during elections and otherwise, the NTK has been silent on the AIADMK and BJP. Neither the increasing fuel prices due to the policies of the BJP-led Union government nor the killing of 13 people in Thoothukudi during anti-Sterlite protests while the AIADMK was in power bothered the NTK.
The support of the NTK for AIADMK in previous elections are testimony to the doubts raised by political observers. DMK’s Rajiv Gandhi drew a parallel between the BJP and NTK in his tweets.
While sharing an interview he tweeted, “Seeman = H Raja”, to highlight the policies followed by the BJP and the NTK.
“NTK has not condemned the derogatory speeches of H Raja directed towards their leader itself. How is it possible to brush aside such things and be in harmony with them?” Rajiv questioned.
Questioning the intentions of the party in opposing DMK alone, Senthil recollected the incidents of NTK supporting the AIADMK.
“Seeman openly called for the unification of the two factions of the AIADMK after the power tussle in the party. This happened after several mismanagements by the AIADMK government. In fact, he has not spoken a word against Jayalaitha who called for the hanging of LTTE leader Prabhakaran,” he added.
The NTK has repeatedly shown poor performance in the elections, but has garnered support of the youth through its radical policies and campaigns.
“A section of the youth was willing to fight for the rights of the state post 2009, but individuals are misleading them for personal benefits with unrealistic promises," Senthil said.
“The NTK’s campaign is mostly anti-Dravidian and specifically anti-DMK, while it wanted a strong AIADMK post Jayalalitha’s death and kept mum on policies of the BJP. This creates a massive doubt over the actual political ambitions of the NTK,” Senthil said.