Tamil Nadu BJP leader, whose Periyar remark sparked row, expresses ‘heartfelt regret’
H Raja had said that Periyar’s statues in Tamil Nadu will meet the same fate after Communist leader Lenin’s statue was razed in Tripura.Updated: Mar 07, 2018 12:35 IST
Senior BJP leader from Tamil Nadu H Raja on Wednesday issued an apology for his remarks on social reformer EVR Ramasamy, popularly known as Periyar, on Facebook and said that the comment that sparked a controversy in the state was posted by an administrator without his permission.
Raja had said Periyar’s statues in Tamil Nadu will meet the same fate after Communist leader Lenin’s statue was razed in Tripura, where the Bharatiya Janata Party swept to power on March 3 and ended over two decades of Left rule.
The remark has since been deleted from Facebook as well as Twitter.
“Damaging statues of Ramsamy (Periyar) is not agreeable,” Raja said in his new post, expressing “heartfelt regret” if his post had hurt anyone’s sentiments.
“Which is why, I have removed the same,” Raja said in his post written in Tamil on Facebook.
The BJP’s central leadership also swung into action to limit the damage to the party in the key southern state that sends 39 legislators to the Lok Sabha. It has found it difficult to make inroads in Tamil Nadu, which has been choosing between the two Dravidian parties since the late sixties.
“BJP does not subscribe to any kind of provoking or disrespectful statements and actions of vandalism towards leaders like Periyar. We condemn outrightly those people who are indulging in such actions,” the saffron party’s general secretary P Muralidhar Rao tweeted.
But, political parties across Tamil Nadu refused to accept Raja’s apology and said that action must be taken against him in accordance with the law.
State Communist Party of India leader TK Rangarajan condemned Raja for his statement and said his retraction or apology is not the issue. He said it is the thought that is dangerous and must be thwarted at all costs, and added that Raja’s remarks only show what the BJP thinks of everyone else.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader K Balakrishnan said the BJP’s central and state leadership was distancing itself saying that it was an individual view and not that of the party cannot be accepted.
“Is the BJP not responsible for what their party persons say? The apology coming so late after furore across the state only betrays the real intention of the party,” he added.
Congress leader Peter Alphons alleged that the BJP was preparing the ground for a civil war in the country and declared that his party was not ready to accept Raja’s apology or retraction of his statement.
“It must be noted that there has been no reaction from the BJP headquarters over a statement by its national leader that statues of Periyar were next after removal of Lenin statues in Tripura,” the Congress leader said, wondering why no action was taken by the BJP against Raja.
VCK leader Ravi Kumar said “this is not the first time that Raja tried to incite passions”. “... He is a habitual offender ... There appears to be a sinister design of the BJP to disrupt peace in Tamil Nadu,” Kumar added.
The AIADMK-led government, however, tried to downplay the incident.
State fisheries minister D Jayakumar told reporters that “there is no issue after Raja apologised and withdrew his remarks.”
The government will take action against anyone trying to indulge in vandalism, he said, and added that there was no need for action against Raja.
It has provided protection to several Periyar statues located in different district headquarters and main towns in the state after Raja’s comments.
Police have also stepped up security at BJP offices in the state after protests erupted over Raja’s Facebook post.
Four unidentified men on motorcycles threw petrol bombs at a BJP office in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore early on Wednesday, hours after a statue of Periyar was vandalised in the southern state.
No one was injured and there was no major damage to the office located at VKK Salai in the city, police said.
The police added they are examining the CCTV footage and investigating the incident and formed two teams to nab the culprits.
Two people were arrested in Vellore late on Tuesday night for desecrating a Periyar statue at Thirupattur corporation office in Vellore district.