War of Words Begins as Tamil Nadu Govt Addresses Centre as ‘Ondriya Arasu’

As MK Stalin-led DMK formed government in Tamil Nadu, the political game in the state has started to witness many twists and turns. The word ‘Ondriya Arasu’ (Union Government) came back to usage right when Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam started issuing government orders, holding council meets, press meets and so on.

The era of DMK party, which almost gained its political victory after a decade, began with Covid-19 crisis. Eventually, political critics presented their feedback on Stalin’s governance that has brought in new schemes that people of Tamil Nadu have not seen earlier. Those trend-setting schemes are ‘Ungal Thoguthiyil Muthalamaichar’ with which the government will redress the grievances of people in 100 days who submitted petitions to Stalin during the Tamil Nadu assembly election campaigns. Free bus travel for women, transgenders were among his schemes.

‘Ondriya Arasu’

The word ‘Ondriya Arasu’ has its own historical background. Much before Stalin, former chief ministers Annadurai and Karunanidhi had used the term to address the Centre during their regimes. Later, after the partition of the states, ‘Ondriya Arasu’ gradually became ‘Maththiya Arasu’ which is used by the Tamil media frequently.

Amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic crisis, this silent war of words has taken a political turn as Stalin and some of his cabinet ministers have started addressing the Centre as ‘Ondirya Arasu’. Recently, Tamil Nadu Finance Minister PTR Palanivel Thiagarajan mentioned the term in his maiden speech during the 43rd GST Council meeting.

The Union government basically means Union of States. The reason that the DMK-led government in Tamil Nadu addresses the Centre this way is that they believe that the Central Government is no superior to the State Government and the State Governments have the rights and power as the Centre does.

However, this did not go down well with the BJP as the party asked how can a power entitled central government be addressed as ‘Ondriya Arasu’? Some BJP leaders from Tamil Nadu have questioned what if the Centre refer the State as Panchayat? Thus, this silent conflict is prolonging between these two political parties.

Speaking to News18 Tamil Nadu, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) MLA and party’s Deputy Secretary General Aloor Shanavas and BJP’s State General Secretary KT Raghavan have shared their views on ‘Ondriya Arasu’.

“Country’s welfare lies on the welfare of the States,” said Shanavas, adding, “The Centre is itself calling its Government as Union Government. We also refer to Union Government and Union Ministers which is legal. Why does the BJP is refusing to accept it? The word Union Government of India is according to the Constitution.”

“Generally, the BJP functions in a way. They think that their symbol of religious worship should become the symbol of whole India and they seek to make it legal. They refused to accept the word ‘Tamil Nadu’ too rather they sought to keep it as ‘Tamizhagam’. Whereas, Constitutionally, India is a country of collective of States, culture and language which should be addressed as a Union and not a Nation. The BJP’s ultimate goal is that the States should not have the rights to decide or the State assembly to function as well. BJP wants a standalone pride, denies the state’s right,” the VCK leader added.

While on the other hand, BJP leader Raghavan said, “The Constitution of India clearly demarcates that the Centre cannot intrude on the State Government’s decision.”

“Despite the fact that ‘Ondirya Arasu’ is not a bad reference, the current State Government – DMK, DMK allies earlier called it ‘Maththiya Arasu’ rather now they want to forcibly call it ‘Ondriya Arasu’ (Union Government). The DMK also specifically emphasis the word ‘Tamil Nadu’ and not ‘Thamizhagam’. This had brought in a debate that the ruling party has started its so-called ‘process of separation’. They seek to divide Tamil Nadu from India and the State Government firmly acts to instill this in people’s mind. So, the DMK’s intention is not wise, while the Centre might not sit idle by watching this,” he added.

The BJP leader further said that Chief Minister Stalin should explain as to why his DMK party leaders are using the term ‘Ondirya Arasu’. “There arises a question that on who’s motive the ministers are referring the Centre as ‘Ondiryam’. We definitely agree with the concept of federalism. The Centre is a formation of all State Governments and there’s no argument on who is superior on power. We also believe on co-operative federalism and in fact when Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, he formed the ‘Team India’ movement where he constructed an inclusive committee comprising of all State Chief Ministers that others failed to do.”

DMK leadership deliberately wants it’s party men including ministers to target the Centre. What is the intention of the Chief Minister? MK Stalin has to clear on what their intentions are and is it right for the welfare of the state. Definitely, the people of Tamil Nadu will not accept the act of separatism from the ruling party”, he adds.

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