Periyar Controversy Day 2: Fresh attack on Rajinikanth, silence on Babri demolition questioned
The storm started with the Rajinikanth accusing Periyar of disrespecting Hindu gods during his speech on January 14 at the 50th-anniversary event of Tamil magazine ‘Thuglak’.Updated: Jan 22, 2020 21:32 IST
Tamil superstar Rajinikanth continues to face political backlash for the second day in Tamil Nadu over his comments on rationalist social reformer and iconoclast ‘Periyar’ EV Ramasamy after his refusal to apologise or express regret.
Cutting across political divide, the ruling AIADMK and a member of the opposition alliance, the Congress, hit out at the iconic actor and aspiring politician for taking on Periyar, who is considered the father of the Dravidian movement and is widely respected by regional political outfits.
The storm started with the Rajinikanth accusing Periyar of disrespecting Hindu gods during his speech on January 14 at the 50th-anniversary event of Tamil magazine ‘Thuglak’.
“In 1971, Periyar led a procession in Salem with the portraits of Sri Ramachandramoorthy (Ram) and Sita, without dress, and garlanded with slippers. No one had the guts to report that and Thuglak editor Cho alone had the courage to publish it,” the actor said, inviting the wrath of Dravidian outfits.
The AIADMK and the Congress too joined the chorus on Wednesday.
“Why does Rajinikanth, who comments about an incident which happened in 1971, keeps a studied silence about the 1992 demolition of Babri Masjid?” asked Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president KS Alagiri.
Congress leader Karti P Chidambaram said Rajinikanth should make his stance on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and other pressing contemporary issues public rather than raking up an old event.
“He should respond to current issues. Is he supporting or opposing the CAA? Is he condemning the mayhem at the Jawaharlal Nehru University? Is he supporting Demonetisation and GST or not? In Kashmir three former Chief Ministers are under house arrest for months together. Does he welcome these things or not?” Chidambaram said while speaking to reporters in Madurai.
Political parties have often accused BJP of attempting to discredit Periyar to establish a foothold in the southern state and Rajinikanth has been attacked for allegedly speaking in the saffron party’s language. AIADMK is in alliance with the BJP, but the Dravidian outfit came out all guns blazing.
“We cannot tolerate any insult to our icons Periyar, Anna (CN Anndurai), MG Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa. Rajinikanth talked about what had not happened at the rally led by Periyar in 1971 at Salem. When Thuglak itself had not reported about it, he is talking about it. We cannot allow insults to Periyar and the government will take steps to put an end to this,” party leader Jayakumar told the media.
Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam (OPS) said Periyar’s ideas were like a ‘kalash’(holy pot) in a temple tower.
“It was because of Periyar’s yeomen service to uplift the underprivileged that an ordinary person like me could reach such a height. People criticising Periyar should first read his works in its entirety,” he said.
Meanwhile, Rajinikanth’s residence at the posh Poes Garden area in the city is being protected by the police amid continuing attempts by some Dravidian outfits, including the Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam and the Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam (DVK), to lay a siege outside.