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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

‘Doing sales in lakhs’: TN store owner thanks BJP leader for boycott tweet

Last month, speaking at an event organised by a Periyarist organisation, Dravida Iyakka Tamizhar Peravai, Karappan allegedly made some remarks against Hindu gods.

india Updated: Oct 23, 2019 22:00 IST
M Manikandan
M Manikandan
Hindustan Times, Chennai
A picture of Karappan Silks store.  (Photo: Sourced)
A picture of Karappan Silks store. (Photo: Sourced)
         

The owner of a little-known apparel and textiles showroom in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, has seen a sudden spike in business after calls by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders to boycott his store, following remarks he allegedly made against some Hindu gods, resulted in increased patronage by Dravidian organisations.

However, the controversy did result in a police case being filed against the owner.

V Karappan, 70, who runs an eponymous shop, Karappan Silks, is a staunch follower of Periyar EV Ramasamy’s rationalist ideology. Karappan is also the author of two books on weaving, Kaithari Kalanjiyam (Handloom Encyclopedia) and Kaithari Nesavu (Handloom Weaving), both released about three years ago.

Last month, speaking at an event organised by a Periyarist organisation, Dravida Iyakka Tamizhar Peravai, Karappan allegedly made some remarks against Hindu gods.

A video recording of the event went viral, following which BJP national secretary H Raja urged Hindus to shun Karappan Silks in Sirumugai. The call for a boycott, especially ahead of Deepavali, when sales spike, was meant to hit Karappan where it hurts.

Karappan’s initial response was to issue a clarification saying he meant no disrespect to any deity or community. This didn’t cut it with Raja, who said: “Hindu groups should not purchase anything from Karappan Silks. The textile showroom owner’s apology is a bogus act. Not only Karappan Silks, any shop owner who comes out with an anti-Hindu statement should also be boycotted,” he said in a tweet on Sunday.

Dravidan and Periyarist organisations and their supporters sprang to the defence of Karappan Silks on social networks and also started visiting the outlet.

Both supporters and opponents of Karappan Silks have been flooding social media sites with reviews of the outlet too.

On Tuesday, Karappan told media that the controversy had actually boosted his sales.

“I was doing business of a few thousands rupees (per day). However, now it has increased to lakhs. I already offered apologies for my speech. We are not against any religion or caste and party. I even praised the BJP in my book, which was about weaving and the weaver community. Anyway, I thank Raja for his tweet,” he said.

On Wednesday, Karappan could not be reached over the phone. His daughter, Usha Senthil, said her father was not in a position to speak . “As the police have filed a case against my father, our legal counsel have advised that he avoid speaking to the media. We will revert within a couple of days.”

Former Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MLA S S Sivasankar decried what he termed an attempt by BJP’s to “bring disaster to Karappan’s business”.

“Karappan is fundamentally a weaver. He has trained hundreds to weave silk sarees. Attending a Dravidian outfit’s meeting, he just expressed his rationalist views in connection with his business. Even though he offered an apology, BJP wants to make it as a political controversy. However, Raja’s tweet has been giving the best results for Karappan’s business.”

Narayanan Tirupathi, a BJP spokesperson, said Karappan has not shown genuine regret.

“Karappan has not only defamed Hindu gods, but he had also slammed a particular caste. So police should take legal action against him and produce him before the court. His apology has not come from his heart.”