TN BJP leader Raja's penchant for controversies

TN BJP leader Raja's penchant for controversies

BJP national secretary H Raja (extreme right) immerses the ashes of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at Agni Theertham in Rameswaram. (PTI File Photo)

What do Dravidian legend Periyar E V Ramasamy, Tamil actor Vijay, the Madras High Court, CPI MP D Raja and journalists have in common?

All have been targeted by BJP national secretary H Raja, who is never scared of stoking a row through provocative statements and invoke his faith at the drop of a hat at different times in the past four years.

Deep-rooted in the RSS tradition, Raja began his political career in the Sangh before formally joining the BJP in 1989. At best, he can be termed as a "double-edged sword" for the saffron party in Tamil Nadu.

If his provocative statements against certain communities and the Dravidian ideology helps the BJP cater to its core vote base, the flip-side is Raja's vitriolic comments against the Dravidian movement and its leader almost annihilates the party from the majority of people in Tamil Nadu.

Raja's habit of branding almost everyone who raises a question against the BJP, the RSS and Prime Minister Narendra Modi as "anti-Indian" and injecting a communal angle to every incident is legendary by now.

He asked Communist leader Raja to shoot his daughter Aparjitha, a student leader, for participating in protests against the government at the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi.

Though Raja served as a member of the Tamil Nadu Assembly between 2001-2006, he shot into the political limelight when the BJP fielded him against Karti, son of former Union minister P Chidambaram, in his pocket borough of Sivaganga in the 2014 general elections. Immediately, his graph rose in the BJP as he was appointed one of the national secretaries and there was no looking back for Raja since then.

From opposing Vijay-starrer 'Mersal' for its criticism of GST and demonetisation, to demanding pulling down of Periyar's statues in Tamil Nadu to using a derogatory term for the high court, Raja's comments have only brought embarrassment to the BJP, which is finding it very difficult to stand on its feet in Tamil Nadu. And every time he stokes a controversy or is caught in a row, Raja defends the indefensible by pleading ignorance.

The controversies regarding his comments on 'Mersal' and Periyar generated national attention with leaders from across the political spectrum speaking against him. Raja gave a communal twist to 'Mersal' row in October last year by tweeting an image of the voter identification card of actor Vijay, which had his full name, C Joseph Vijay, implying that it was his religion that led him to speak against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

And in March, when a Lenin statue was pulled down in Tripura after the BJP breached the last of the Left bastion, Raja was at it yet again by tweeting that the statues of Periyar, who denounced god and batted for social justice, would be the next in line to be demolished. This time, Raja blamed his admin, who manages his Twitter handle.

And after a lull, he used a derogatory term to describe the Madras High Court when the Tamil Nadu Police stopped refused to allow a Vinayaka idol procession led by him to pass through a communally-sensitive village.

"The Tamil Nadu Police is highly corrupt and corrupt to the core. How did you people allow 19 colour television sets to be taken inside Puzhal prison in Chennai? Police are corrupt and you people have received a bribe from members of other communities. If you want, ask me. I am ready to bribe you. Police are anti-Hindu," Raja told the police. And, this time, his excuse is: "the video has tampered."

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