Statues, be that of Lenin or of E V Ramaswamy better known to the world as Periyar, are not just stones though they are made of them. The statues represent the ideology that the legends propagated and the values that they stood for during their lifetime. And if someone thinks that by vandalising or pulling down the statue of an illustrious person, they can wipe out their glory and the fame that they have earned through the years, I can only pity them.
The latest conflagration began in Tripura where the statue of Communist legend Lenin was pulled down, two days after the BJP downed the CPI (M) to capture power in the north-east state. After Lenin's statue was removed, controversy's favourite child and BJP's very own H Raja gave a clarion call for pulling down the statue of Periyar, the rationalist leader who denounced God and heralded self-respect movement in Tamil Nadu. Why Periyar?
If Lenin is the symbol of Marxism and the ideologue of the Communists who ruled Tripura, Periyar represents the Dravidian movement. The BJP, Sangh Parivar and those propagating Hindutva live in an illusionary world that they can defeat the Dravidian ideology and usurp power in Tamil Nadu. In his Facebook post, which has now been deleted, Raja termed Periyar as “casteist.”
For Raja and the ideology that he represents, definition of casteist is far different from what it actually means. For them, anyone who opposes caste, religion and speaks against them is a casteist. So, by their standards, they view Periyar as a casteist. Periyar not just spoke against religion and caste, but he lived a frugal life till his last breath visiting villages across Tamil Nadu explaining to the people how the aforesaid two are being used as a tool to wreak havoc in their lives.
The BJP and Sangh Parivar thrive on caste and religion. If religion is a tree, caste is its root. Since Periyar's ideologies challenge their survival, they question him, call him names and unleash an orchestrated campaign to poison the minds of those who believe or respect him.
Raja spewing venom against Periyar is not new - he has done it several times in the past and to defame the Dravidian legend is part of the BJP's design to make inroads into Tamil Nadu. BJP wants to convert Tamil Nadu into its laboratory after several of its ideas and tactics to create wedge between majority and minority communities failed, not just once, but several times.
If Raja's motive was to unleash violence, he succeeded to an extent after viewing visuals of forcible cutting of scared threads from people and the attack on offices and establishments of the BJP.
Violence can never be the answer - whoever indulges in it. Periyar himself would not have approved of the violence that his supposed followers are instigating now. Periyar always propagated peace and non-violence.
Tamilnadu government should take legal action, treating Raja's face book post as a hate crime. With incidents of hate speech increasing day by day, the Union Government should immediately pass the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2017, prepared by the Law Commission of India which introduces two new sections - 153 (C) and 505 (A) - in the IPC that provides for 2 year imprisonment or `5,000 penalty or both for provocative speech and 1 year jail for those inciting violence.
Periyar and Lenin are not like Emperor Ozymandias .Their statues are like live wires.