Yeddyurappa, Karunanidhi try some statue diplomacy

Written by Political Bureau | Chennai | Updated: Jul 17 2009, 05:00am hrs
Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are making a bid to ease their strained relationship by what can be called statue diplomacy.

On August 9, chief minister M Karunanidhi will unveil the statue of Tamil saint-poet Thiruvalluvar at Bengaluruhis first public function after he announced his decision not to take part in any such function in Karnatakas capital.

In return, his Karnataka counterpart, chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, will unveil a statue of Kannada poet Sarvagna in Chennai four days later. Karunanidhi said this in the Assembly on Tuesday while making a statement under Rule 110.

The proposal to erect a statue of Thiruvalluvar the Tamil saint whose couplets are considered one of the purest forms of Tamil language and culture and thus a matter of pride is not new. First mooted 18 years ago by Tamil associations in Karnataka, it was, however, hanging fire as a section of Kannada activists opposed the move.

The periodical flare-up of emotions during water-sharing discussions also contributed to the deadlock.

Incidentally, it was Yeddyurappa who was instrumental in stoking the fire across the border over the Hogenakkal Integrated Drinking Water Project in the run-up to the Assembly elections in Karnataka. The project was soon caught in a controversy and many, including film fraternities on both sides of the border, staged protests.

To fulfil the dream of erecting the statue of the saint, I have been having discussions with Karnataka chief minister Yeddyurappa, both through letters and in person, when he recently visited the state. As per the agreement reached between the two governments, a statue of Thiruvalluvar will be unveiled in Bengaluru on August 9, said Karunanidhi, adding that a statue of Sarvagna will be unveiled at Ayanavaram in Chennai by Yeddyurappa on August 13.

Karunanidhi had earlier announced his decision to boycott all public functions in Bengaluru when the relationship between the states was at its worst. Even now, the water-sharing discussions between the states including on the Cauvery issue are inconclusive, and have the potential to affect a normal relationship between them.

Like Thiruvalluvar for the Tamils, Sarvagna is a legendary Kannada poet. If the former used couplets, Sarvagna used concise three-liners to convey the message.