Milk packets of the Tamil Nadu state-owned dairy cooperative Aavin, will soon sport a new look with a literary touch. Each packet will have a couplet of ‘Thirukural’, the much acclaimed Sangam era work of saint-poet Thiruvalluvar, printed on them, the state’s Dairy Development Minister K T Rajenthira Bhalaji said on Wednesday.
The minister took to Twitter to make the announcement and to confirm it subsequently.
“Soon Thirukural couplets will be printed on milk packets of Aavin after obtaining the consent of the Chief Minister,” Bhalaji said in his tweet. He did not mention a date from when the milk packets will start carrying the couplets.
Bhalaji’s announcement of the decision to print Thirukural comes in response to a plea of the state unit of the BJP. The saffron party’s IT and Social Media Wing president, CTR Nirmal Kumar, had in a representation to the minister, made a request to this effect so that the message of ‘Kural’ reaches the people at large.
This also comes close on the heels of a controversy over the BJP’s alleged attempt to appropriate Thiruvalluvar by saffronising him and the desecration of a statue of the poet near the Thanjavur district collectorate earlier this month.
The BJP had faced a barrage of criticism from political parties and Tamil groups after the party tweeted a portrait of the iconic Tamil poet in saffron robes. The party had posted it to coincide with the Thai translation of ‘Thirukural’ released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Bangkok recently.
From the DMK to the Left parties and the Congress as well as the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) and the MDMK of Vaiko have all condemned it as an attempt to saffronise the poet. Even the NDA constituent, Pattali Makkal Katchi had joined the chorus in deprecating it.
Political analysts believe that the AIADMK’s decision to print Thirukural couplets could be fuelled by its intent to tide over the criticism of being soft on the attempt to saffronise the revered poet.
“Spreading Thirukural is welcome and having the couplets on the milk packets every morning is a novel idea. But, the intent behind this move is very clear. The AIADMK government, which could not rein in attempts to saffronise the poet by the BJP, is trying to make up for that failure. And the minister too could take credit. But it might not be enough to erase the AIADMK’s image as being subservient to the BJP,” said political commentator Aazhi Senthil Nathan.
The poet from the Sangam era (2nd BC to 2nd CE) enjoys an iconic status among Tamils across the globe and ‘Thirukural’, containing 1330 couplets, is one of the most translated works in the world.