Following on from his speech at the UN General Assembly, where he invoked Tamil philosopher Kaniyan Pungundranar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, upon landing in Chennai, said, “Chennai Makkalai sandhithathil magizhchi” (I am happy to meet the people of Chennai).Speaking at the airport, Mr. Modi referred to his speech in the U.S. and said, “When I told them Tamil is one of the oldest languages, the whole of the U.S. started resonating with Tamil.” He once again spoke about the language’s ancientness at the IIT-M convocation. This, senior leaders said, had nothing to do with politicking, considering the spurt in anti-Hindi statements made by Opposition leaders.Former Union Minister Pon. Radhakrishnan said the Prime Minister had already recognised the ancientness of Tamil. “He spoke about Tamil on the world stage at the UN. No other Prime Minister has given so much recognition to Tamil on the world stage,” he told The Hindu.He said it would be low-level politics if this recognition of Tamil as an ancient language was inferred as politicking. “The PM himself is recognising Tamil’s rich history. This is the time for all of us to forcefully speak about the language’s history. Tamil scholars have to thank the PM, and I would say that the Assembly should pass a resolution thanking him,” Mr. Radhakrishnan said.When asked if the same spirit will be reflected on the Keeladi excavation’s findings, he said any talk about India’s culture cannot be complete without talking about Tamil culture, which Keeladi had proved. “The Tamil Nadu government should take this forward without politicising it,” he said. To a query whether he and the BJP will take up the issue of creating a site museum in Keezhadi, he said, “We will also do something.”Former State BJP president L. Ganesan too said there was no politics in Mr. Modi making multiple references to Tamil. “He’s coming to Tamil Nadu. So, it is natural for him to speak about the State. Recently, he quoted Kaniyan Pungundranar at the UN and spoke about Tamil as an ancient language,” Mr. Ganesan said. He said the Prime Minister had in fact spoken about the importance of Tamil on earlier occasions as well, and referred to a suggestion he had made to Mr. Modi about replying to letters from people in Tamil Nadu in Tamil, in order to have a better connect with them. “He took this suggestion and in fact spoke about this at a NITI Aayog meeting. So this is not something new,” Mr. Ganesan claimed.
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