This beastliness must stop at once. The desecration or vandalism of statues — whether of Vladimir Lenin, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Periyar or Ambedkar — is an uncivilised act that has no place in modern society. Iconoclasm may be an idea that’s still relevant in anyone’s thinking process, but acting to desecrate the memory of leaders of deep social thought is to disrespect history, and the clearest sign of growing intolerance of another’s viewpoint, that invariably leads to destructive behaviour and challenges the basis of a peaceful society. Long after contemporary personalities have passed on, the ideas of the historical thinkers will be valid for large sections of humanity, and minor issues like electoral victories can’t be the basis for irresponsible action.
The Prime Minister and home minister may have spoken up against such vandalism, but they acted a bit too late. This should have been done the moment the first Lenin statue was felled in Tripura after the BJP and its allies wrested power from the Left. Lenin, a Russian, may have been a foreigner, but his thinking transformed large parts of the world, which must be respected. The BJP’s highest echelons seemed to wake up only when their own Syama Prasad Mookerjee, distinguished scion of a great educationist and judge, was disrespected. So too Periyar, a revolutionary social thinker, who upended an ancient caste order and engendered a whole Dravidian movement. Ambedkar’s eminence as a legal luminary of course needs no repetition. One may agree or disagree with their views, but no one has the right to take potshots at the statuary erected to preserve the verities they cast light on.