TN Assembly Witnesses Debate Between BJP and CM Stalin on Use of Words ‘Union Govt’

The Tamil Nadu Assembly witnessed a debate on Wednesday between the BJP and government on using the words “union government” for a reference to the Centre, with Chief Minister M K Stalin asserting that it was being used by them as it had a connotation of federalism. BJP MLA Nainar Nagendran, referring to the newly elected DMK government preferring using “union government” for a reference to the Central government, said there was nothing wrong in the choice of words and even the Constitution said that “India, that is Bharat, shall be a union of states.” Speaking on the motion of thanks to the Governor for his Address, Nagendran, a former Minister in a previous AIADMK government before he joined the Saffron party, however, sought to know the intention behind its use. He asked if it was being used by “thinking something else.” Interevening, Stalin said no one need to be alarmed at the use of words “union government” for referring to the Centre. These two words have a connotation of federalism and that was the reason for them using it, he said.

“That is why we are using it, we will use it and use it on and on,” he said. No one need to think as if it was a “social sin,” to use the words “union government,” he said, adding some were thinking so and it was wrong.

“The first article of our Constitution says that India, that is Bharat, shall be a union of states. We are only using that. We are not using something which does not find a place in the law. Union is not a wrong word and it implies union of states,” the Chief Minister said. Stalin also pointed out that some were making remarks against them as if they were doing something which their late top leaders Arignar Anna (C N Annadurai) and Kalaignar (M Karunanidhi) did not.

The DMK’s 1957 election manifesto mentions the words “Indian union,” and party founder Anna had spoken on the subject in Rajya Sabha on January 25, 1963. Late leaders, Ma Po Si (Sivagnanam) used the word “Samashti” (federation) and Rajaji had written on true federalism and against excessive concentration of power, the Chief Minister recalled.

The background to the debate could be traced to the use of Tamil words “Ondriya Arasu” (union government) in official communications of the state government in the place of “Mathiya Arasu,” (central government) right from May 7 when the DMK assumed office. Though the use of words “Ondriya Arasu,” (formal and pure Tamil) is not altogether new, either in public domain or in official communications, the preference now being attached to it cannot be denied.

The topic of late has become a talking point in social media and regional television channels as well. A view among right-wing activists is that the use of these words, though nothing wrong, must not be allowed to nurture emotional tendencies that may isolate Tamil Nadu from the national mainstream.

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