BJP leader H Raja's comments on Periyar statue triggers row

BJP leader H Raja's comments on Periyar statue triggers row

BJP leader H Raja's comments on Periyar statue triggers row

A row erupted in Tamil Nadu today over BJP leader H Raja's remarks indicating that statues of rationalist leader E V Ramasamy "Periyar" could be the next to be pulled down after a Lenin statue was razed in Tripura.

As the comments in a facebook post against late Ramasamy, founder of the Dravidian movement, drew condemnation from several political parties in the state, Raja deleted it while BJP's state unit distanced itself from the issue, saying it was his personal view. Political parties including DMK, MDMK and the Left lashed out at Raja, a BJP National Secretary, with DMK Working President M K Stalin leading the charge seeking his detention under the 'Goondas Act'. 

"Who is Lenin and what is the connection between Lenin and India? What connection India has with Communists? Today Lenin's statue removed in Tripura, tomorrow it will be the statue of EV Ramasamy in Tamil Nadu", Raja had said in the Tamil post in facebook that had been deleted. He was referring to the pulling down of a statue of communist icon Lenin by some persons using an excavator machine at Belonia in South Tripura district, days after the BJP defeated CPI (M) in the closely fought assembly polls. 

The CPI(M) has held BJP workers responsible for pulling down the statue of Lenin. Condemning Raja's post, Stalin said nobody was qualified to "even touch" a statue of 'Periyar', as the rationalist leader was popularly known. "A senior leader like H Raja is often making comments that will trigger violence. My view is that he has to be arrested under the (stringent) Goondas Act," Stalin, Leader of Opposition in the state assembly, told reporters. MDMK founder Vaiko warned of "retaliation" by his party workers if any one caused damage to statues of Ramasamy. 

"If anybody tries to cause damage to (statues of) Periyar, MDMK will not keep quite and will retaliate by breaking the hands of the persons involving in such acts," he told reporters in Erode. 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. 

However, the BJP's state unit sought to distance itself away from Raja's now deleted post, saying it was his "personal view." 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 as his personal view", she told reporters in Tirunelveli. Ramasamy is a Dravidian icon in Tamil Nadu who heralded the self-respect movement. A staunch atheist, he had often questioned then prevailing social and religious customs, drawing the ire of a section of the society. He had founded the Dravidar Kazhagam, the parent organisation of DMK, floated by late chief minister C N Annadurai and taken forward by its incumbent chief M Karunanidhi.