CHENNAI: Known for his penchant for stoking raging political row, BJP leader H Raja was at it yet again. On Tuesday, Raja’s Facebook post warning that Periyar’s statues could be the next to be pulled down after a bust of Marxist leader Lenin was razed in Tripura created a major controversy.
As the comments drew all-round condemnation from political parties, Dravidian outfits and activists, the BJP quickly distanced itself from the comment leaving Raja, who has the habit of putting his foot in the mouth, to fend for himself. The controversial leader deleted the Facebook post after it went viral on the social media and was shared by millions of internet users on Twitter and other sites.
DMK Working President M.K. Stalin, while noting that Raja has always been known for making provocative statements, demanded the BJP leader’s arrest under Goondas Act for trying to incite violence. If Raja’s comments were in bad taste, reactions from leaders like Vaiko were not charitable either as the MDMK chief warned that his cadres would “break legs and hands” of anyone who tries to vandalise the statue of Periyar.
Periyar, the founder of Dravidar Kazhagam that denounced God and advocated rationalism, is revered in Tamil Nadu, as people believe he sowed the seeds for the Dravidian movement that captured power for the first time in 1967 in Tamil Nadu and continues to hold onto the state even after 50 years.
The BJP hopes to end the Dravidian rule in Tamil Nadu, but the party has hardly any base in the state. Raja was recently in the news for pointing to the religion of popular actor Vijay after the BJP took objection to statements relating to GST and demonetisation in his movie Mersal released during Deepavli in 2017.
“Who is Lenin and what is the connection between Lenin and India? What connection India has with Communists? Today Lenin’s statue (has been) removed in Tripura and tomorrow it will be the statue of casteist E.V. Ramasamy in Tamil Nadu,” the Facebook post by Raja in Tamil read. Raja made the comment while sharing a video of pulling down of Lenin’s statue at Belonia in South Tripura district, days after the BJP defeated CPI (M) in the assembly polls.
Condemning Raja's post, Stalin said nobody was qualified to “even touch” a statue of Periyar. “A senior BJP leader like H Raja is often making comments that have the potential to trigger violence. My view is that he has to be arrested under the (stringent) Goondas Act,” Stalin said.
Speaking to reporters in Erode, Vaiko said: “If anybody tries to cause damage to (statues of) Periyar, MDMK will not keep quiet and will retaliate by breaking the hands of the persons involving in such acts.”
CPI (M) State Secretary K Balakrishnan, Dravidar Kazhagam leader K Veeramani and pro-Tamil leaders Thol Thirumavalavan and Seeman also hit out at Raja and demanded action against him.
Party's state unit President Tamilisai Soundararajan said comments made by Raja were not that of the party. “This is not an official view. I can make a comment if it was a view of my party. I consider it his personal view”, she told reporters in Tirunelveli.