Vaiko and Telugu

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Telugu Vaiko fights for Tamils
Hyderabad, July 11: Tamil Nadu has witnessed several non-Tamilians taking up the cause of Tamilians, but MDMK chief V Gopalasamy, popularly known as Vaiko, is different from all of them.

Vaiko, who was arrested by the Tamil Nadu government under the Pota on Thursday for openly supporting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, is a Telugu by origin. His forefathers, supposed to be Naidus from southern Andhra Pradesh, settled in Tamil Nadu more than 150 years ago at Kalingappattai, a village in Tirunalveli district, which was once integrated with Circar districts of the erstwhile Andhra State.

According to Jnanpeeth awardee and Rajya Sabha member Dr C Narayana Reddy, Telugus had made the southern districts of Tamil Nadu their home right from the days of Nayaka kings, the most popular among being Thirumalai Nayaka and Viswanatha Nayaka of Tanjore, who ruled South India. During the time of the Vijayanagar rulers, especially Krishnadevaraya, too, many Telugus migrated to what is now Tamil Nadu.

“There are a number of Kamma Nayudus who went to Tamil Naidu and became part and parcel of that State and imbibed the local culture. They consider themselves Tamilians rather than Telugus now. The older generation may speak broken Telugu at times, but the younger generation has completely forgotten that they belong to Andhra Pradesh. Hence, there is no surprise in Vaiko taking up the cause of Tamilians,” Reddy said.

Vaiko is not the first Telugu by birth who is fighting for Tamil rights. The legendary Veerapandyakattabomman, who fought the British, was a Telugu by origin. So is DMK chief Muthuvel Karunanidhi, whose ancestors had roots in Andhra Pradesh.

“There is nothing objectionable if a non-Tamilian like Vaiko fights for the cause of Tamils. After all, Telugu and Tamil are part of the Dravidian culture. Many non-Tamils have integrated themselves with Tamilian culture.

As a matter of fact, Periyar Ramaswamy Naicker, who launched the Dravidian movement, was a Kannadiga. What is objectionable is that Vaiko is supporting the LTTE, which is a terrorist organisation,” noted journalist Cho Ramaswamy told Deccan Chronicle over phone from Chennai.

Former Vice-Chancellor of Telugu University N Gopi says it’s politics that matters, and Tamil Nadu politics is murkier. “So, if Vaiko talks about the LTTE, it is only for politics. Being a Telugu is not an issue here. The less we talk about Tamil politics, the better,” he said.

BJP State general secretary P Venugopal Reddy said Vaiko cannot claim to be a Telugu now, because he was born and brought up in Tamil Nadu and so were his parents. There is nothing Telugu left of him, he observed.

But, Vaiko, it is learnt, still speaks Telugu at home. He has a son and two daughters. The son married a distant relative and the ceremony was reportedly conducted in the traditional Telugu manner. The daughters are also said to have been married into families of Telugu origin.

When contacted, MDMK spokesman Nenmaran took strong objection to raising the issue of Vaiko’s Telugu background. “So far none of the Tamils here have thought of that aspect of Vaiko. You are unnecessarily raising a new issue,” he said.

Nenmaran said Vaiko never identified himself as a Telugu and right from the beginning had been fighting for the cause of Tamilians.

“His father had participated in the Periyar movement and his forefathers were Congress leaders in Tamil Nadu. So, there is nothing wrong if he takes up the cause of Tamils, wherever they are,” he said.

Reproduced from the Hindu Online edition


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