Congress, DMK accuse BJP of trying to divide Tamil Nadu as ‘Kongu Nadu’ sparks row

After an official list of new Union Cabinet ministers issued by the BJP mentioned that Tamil Nadu leader L Murugan hailed from “Kongu Nadu”, social media has erupted into debates over the use of the phrase, with the ruling DMK-Congress alliance accusing the BJP of trying to bifurcate the state.

‘Kongu Nadu’ refers to western Tamil Nadu — a region that includes Namakkal, Salem, Tirupur and Coimbatore – and is considered an AIADMK stronghold. However, it is a geographical region – no place officially exists with the name ‘Kongu Nadu’.

While Murugan, the previous state BJP chief, hails from a village near Namakkal in western Tamil Nadu, his successor to the post, K Annamalai, also comes from the same region. It is mainly known as a stronghold of Gounder community — a powerful OBC community in the state with money and muscle power that often gets significant representation in the state cabinet.

Controversy erupted after a screenshot of the Union ministers’ list started doing the rounds of social media, with several prominent personalities accusing the BJP of trying to divide the state into two.

DMK MP Kanimozhi said, “Nobody can divide Tamil Nadu… Nobody needs to worry about such reports. Tamil Nadu is safe under a government now.”

State Congress chief K S Alagiri said it is impossible for anyone to divide Tamil Nadu to form ‘Kongu Nadu’. “If it happens, that will set a precedent and lead to the formation of many such states. Dividing Tamil Nadu is an impossible dream even if some political parties with vested interests would love to push for it. People will never allow that. Such separatist ideas have no room here. A lone tree cannot make a forest is the famous Tamil proverb. If we Tamils live, we will be living in unity. This agenda of BJP will not succeed, we strongly condemn it,” Alagiri said.

The phrase ‘Kongu Nadu’ in the profile of the Union minister has also been seen as a counter to DMK’s assertive position to use the word “Ondriya” (Union) instead of “Madhiya” (Centre) to refer to the Central government in official documents.

Responding to a question on ‘Kongu Nadu’, state BJP general secretary Karu Nagarajan said that “people’s wish will be fulfilled”.

“It has happened like that in other states as well. Telangana is an example… If talking about ‘Ondriya Arasu’ (Union government) is their wish, it is also the wish of people to call it ‘Kongu Nadu,’” he said. However, when asked if the BJP at the Centre was considering bifurcating the state, he evaded the question.

Later Sunday, Nagarajan said there were no discussions in BJP about ‘Kongu Nadu’.

“It is a mere social media debate. I am not even sure of the origin of these discussions. Talking about Kongu Nadu is like Tamil parties who used to have alliances with UPA and NDA at the Centre are now calling them ‘Ondriya Arasu’. There is nothing officially from BJP. Anyway, people’s wishes would be significant in such issues,” he said.

Meanwhile, BJP’s legislature party leader Nainar Nagendran said, “Why is the DMK afraid of the ‘Kongu Nadu’ debate? Everything is Tamil Nadu, nothing to worry about… But at the same time, you keep it in mind that Andhra was divided into two. And UP also. After all, if it is the wish of the people, it would be the responsibility of the government to fulfil it.”

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