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An insult to all the poor in the country: Congress slams govt over statue vandalism

Opposition parties alleged that “intolerant” Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members were involved in such acts of vandalism.

india Updated: Mar 07, 2018 22:56 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Dekhi
Tripura statue vandalism,Periyar statue,Lenin statue
Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourns the House as MPs gather near the well of Parliament over various issues, in New Delhi.(PTI Photo)

The opposition parties on Wednesday termed as “shameful” the incidents of damage to statues in Tripura and Tamil Nadu, alleging that “intolerant” Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members were involved in such acts.

Cutting across party lines, opposition leaders also demanded action against those vandalising the statues.

Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the damage to the statue of Dravidian icon, social activist and rationalist leader EV Ramasamy, popularly known as Periyar, in Tamil Nadu was an insult to the entire country.

“In Tamil Nadu, the statue of Periyar was removed and damaged. It is a very big insult of not only the people of Tamil Nadu, but also the people of the country who believe in his ideology,” he told reporters in the Parliament House complex.

“In a democracy, there are people who believe in all kinds of ideologies. There is no tolerance among the BJP people and they are turning intolerant,” he added.

Highlighting the contribution of Periyar, Kharge said he worked for the upliftment of the Dalits, the oppressed, people of backward classes and women in the southern state. “Periyar helped them get political power. It is an insult to all the poor in the country as Periyar believed in and fought for social justice,” he said. “My party and I condemn the incident. These are people with vested interests who are insulting leaders of rationalist movements in the name of religion. It is not right. People will not tolerate it,” Kharge said.

He added that the Congress-led governments had worked to protect the country’s unity in diversity “unlike what is happening under the BJP’s watch”.

“These people want to break the country’s unity. Today, when their government has come, such people are getting encouraged,” he said, condemning Tamil Nadu BJP leader H Raja for his remarks against Periyar. “They should not take the law into their hands. They think the central government is in their hands,” he said.

Kharge also hit out at the BJP for the vandalism in Tripura soon after it came to power in the state last week.

“In a democracy, one should convince people by one’s ideology, not by hooliganism....action must be taken against those who damaged the statues.”

Attacking the BJP, Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Derek O’Brien called the incidents “absolute shame” and “third class”.

He alleged that the BJP workers “may next break” statues of other iconic leaders as well.

“It is an absolute shame. In 2011, even we won the elections in Bengal. We do not endorse the philosophy of communists like Lenin, but you have to win political battles. This is like third class, but this is to be expected from this government,” he told reporters.

CPI leader D Raja said Periyar was not just a great leader of Tamil Nadu but a global leader, who was the founder of the self-respect and rationalist movements and fought against the caste system. “This kind of absurdity on the part of BJP leaders should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Till now, India is a country which believes in the rule of law. But law and order in Tamil Nadu is going into the hands of the Sangh and fascist forces,” he alleged.

The CPI leader also demanded that the BJP leadership clarify its position on Raja’s comments.

First Published: Mar 07, 2018 22:56 IST