New Delhi: A day after members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tore down a statue of Lenin in Belonia, Tripura, the party’s national general secretary threatened that the same treatment would be meted out to a statue of anti-untouchability activist and Dravidian movement leader E.V. Ramasamy, commonly known as Periyar, in Tamil Nadu.
In an incident on Tuesday evening, a statue of Periyar was vandalised in Tirupattur by two men whom the police said were drunk. They described one of the men as a BJP activist and the other as an activist of the Communist Party of India.
A post on H. Raja’s verified Facebook page said: “Who is Lenin? What is the relevance he holds in India? What is the link between communism and India? Lenin’s statues were destroyed in Tripura, tomorrow, in Tamil Nadu, casteist Periyar’s statues will be destroyed.”
The post received huge online backlash, after which it disappeared from the BJP leader’s page. The DMK also opposed Raja’s comment, with working party president M.K. Stalin saying, according to The News Minute, “No one can even dare to touch EVR’s statue. H. Raja’s comments are done to incite violence. He has been repeatedly doing this. He should be arrested and Goondas Act slapped against him.” He demanded that the BJP leader be arrested.
After the uproar, Raja tried to distance himself from the post, saying that the page is not managed by him personally but by administrators. However, it was not just him who used the incident in Tripura to egg on BJP supporters in Tamil Nadu. According to The News Minute, several other party members in the state, including vice president of the BJP’s youth wing S.G. Suryah, echoed Raja’s remarks.
— SG Suryah (@SuryahSG) March 5, 2018
Defending Raja, BJP spokesperson Narayanan Tirupathi told News18,
“More than 99.9% of the people in Tamil Nadu are spiritual. EVR’s statue carries the message that whoever worships God are barbarians, whoever preaches God are rascals and whosoever keep faith in God are fools. Hindu outfits have for long demanded the removal of these statues but this has not been done till date. Hence, H Raja’s outburst. The words may have been harsh but the intention is keeping in mind the majority of the population.”
According to the channel, this is not the first time Raja has made headlines for his comments on Periyar. At an RSS event, the BJP leader reportedly said that Periyar was ‘anti-Dalit’, and that he would have beaten the Dravidian movement leader with slippers if he could. An FIR was filed against him for this.
- Questioning Periyar Is Necessary for Forging a Progressive Anti-Caste Politics, says N. Kalyan Raman
- Periyar’s Detractors Are Misrepresenting His Words, write Kathick Ram Manoharan and S. Anandhi
- Punitha Pandiyan says it makes no sense to celebrate Ambedkar and vilify Periyar
On Monday, two days after the BJP unseated a 25-year-old communist government in Tripura, members of the saffron party allegedly unleashed violence in difference parts of the state. One of the reported incidents involved breaking a statue of Lenin in south Tripura’s Belonia.