In the pre-independence era, where untouchability and illiteracy were at their peak, and social atrocities were at the core of human behaviour, Baba Saheb Ambedkar had to fight the odds. Baba Saheb Ambedkar crusaded against social discrimination toward Dalits who were also called untouchables. Through his approach, he inspired the Dalit Buddhist movement and founded a Buddhist society. He himself suffered untouchability since his school days.
Modi faced no discrimination. Rather, the Dalits under his rule are subjected to cruelty. Today we are in the 22nd century and our Prime Minister Modi is the most privileged minister in the country. A man who was suited, booted from childhood, enjoying almost all the lavishes cannot be compared with Baba Saheb Ambedkar.
Maybe Maestro Ilayaraja’s ambition to become a Rajya Sabha member must have forced him to make a wrong comparison. His praise for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and comparing him to Dr B R Ambedkar perceives both opposition and support in the social media while BJP national president JP Nadda has hit out at harsh criticism. Both these outstanding personalities succeeded against the odds that people from socially underprivileged sections of society face.
The book published by Bluekraft Digital Foundation ‘Ambedkar & Modi, has made the comparison and lauded pro-women initiatives like the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’. Ilayaraja in his foreword mentioned Modi and Baba Saheb both saw poverty and stifling social structures from close quarters and worked to dismantle them, but both are also practical men who believe in action rather than mere thought exercises. Point to be noted, the actions Modi believes in are very different from the actions Ambedkar took in empowering his people.
Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar was a profound scholar of Economics, Political Science, Sociology and Law. He had not been influenced by either popularity or power. He was an intrinsically independent thinker. If Modi would have been similar to Baba Saheb, today they have given the economy the highest priority. He would have avoided minority appeasement and also the rise in militant Hindutva. The concept of positive discrimination for SC and ST would have got implemented. After 75 years, there might not have been a need for its continuation.
The concept of secularism would undergo change. It means equality of all religions and non-interference by the state in the private religion of its citizens. Babasaheb embraced Buddhism because, unlike Hinduism, it is not based on any caste system. And we have a history where BJP and few others have played religion-based politics. Babasaheb promoted secularism and his followers too accepted the same. Whereas, Modi’s politics revolves around Hindutva and communal riots. We cannot compare Modi to Ambedkar as the former is committed to Hindutva while the latter is a reformist leader who dedicated his entire life to the upliftment of the oppressed people.
Modi supporters defended the praise for their leader, saying the maestro has only pointed out a fact that both the Prime Minister and Ambedkar succeeded against all odds through sheer work and despite belonging to socially disempowered sections of society. The war of words spilt over to the political arena with the BJP coming out in full support of Raja Ji. Supporters of Left parties and pro-Tamil and Dalit outfits are among those who have opposed in social media Ilayaraja comparing Modi with Ambedkar.
Tamil Nadu unit BJP president K Annamalai, on his Twitter handle, posted a letter from his party chief Nadda to the people. In the letter, Nadda, in reference to Tamil Nadu and without naming Ilayaraja, says: “In Tamil Nadu, elements aligned to the ruling party in the State have left no stone unturned in verbally lynching, smearing and humiliating one of India’s tallest music maestro just because he has views not palatable to one political party and their allies. Is this democratic? One can have different views and yet co-exist happily, but why take to insults?”
On BJP leader and Union Minister L Murugan’s remark that Ilayaraja has the freedom of expression to praise Modi, the DMK said the Minister should understand that others with a different viewpoint have the same right to make criticisms. The DMK warned Murugan to not drag the DMK into the issue.
BlueKraft Foundation, on its website, says “The book is a prism that reflects upon the multitude of contributions of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar in the nation-building process. Many of his ideas and interventions continue to define our governance paradigm, especially with PM Narendra Modi at the helm ensuring that it revived his legacy. Ilayaraaja’s recent movie is also being viewed by political observers as an attempt to lean towards neo-Brahmanism and soft-core Hindutva.
The BJP tried to rope in Rajnikanth to break the DMK’s vote bank. Similarly, the saffron party is trying to rope in Ilayaraaja and this is being opposed by his fans. Ilayaraaja’s fans across castes and religions oppose him for the same reason they were against actor Rajinikanth, allying with the BJP. BJP had used Rajinikanth to bring back the AIADMK, and Tamil Nadu would have turned into another communal state. Let it be Ilayaraaja or Raj Thackeray, BJP needs people to become their speakers, as all have their quest for survival.