Tamil Nadu to mark Periyar’s birth anniversary as ‘Day of Social Justice’: CM Stalin

Published on Sep 07, 2021 12:19 AM IST

Periyar’s ideology was about social justice, self-respect, rationalism, equality, and brotherhood, principles that, Stalin added, employees of all state government offices would undertake a pledge of henceforth. The chief minister also said Periyar’s ideals laid a foundation for Tamil society’s growth and it would pave the way for the future.

Born on September 17, 1879, Periyar EV Ramasamy has enjoyed an iconic status with his ideals, particularly his stance against oppression (HT Photo)
Born on September 17, 1879, Periyar EV Ramasamy has enjoyed an iconic status with his ideals, particularly his stance against oppression (HT Photo)
By, Chennai

Tamil Nadu chief minister M K Stalin on Monday declared September 17 as ‘Day of Social Justice’ in the state, a tribute to social reformer and father of the Dravidian movement ‘Periyar’ EV Ramasamy on his birth anniversary. “This will be observed annually,” Stalin said.

Periyar’s ideology was about social justice, self-respect, rationalism, equality, and brotherhood, principles that, Stalin added, employees of all state government offices would undertake a pledge of henceforth. The chief minister also said Periyar’s ideals laid a foundation for Tamil society’s growth and it would pave the way for the future.

Stalin recalled Periyar’s life and said that he spoke of issues that others hesitate to raise. “Equality of men and women, and the abolition of caste were his main principles,” Stalin said.

Periyar dropped his surname ‘Naicker’– a caste name – to show his stance on caste discrimination. Stalin credited Periyar for being instrumental in the first amendment to the Indian Constitution (that safeguarded reservation for backward classes) without even going to the Parliament.

Born on September 17, 1879, Periyar has enjoyed an iconic status with his ideals, particularly his stance against oppression. His politics started with the Congress party, and much of the Tamil linguistic and land identities arose from Periyar’s self-respect movement, founded in 1925. Periyar founded Dravidar Kazhagam (DK), a political party, but in 1949 his lieutenant CN Annadurai moved to form the current ruling government Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). Later, MG Ramachandran split from the DMK, headed by M Karunanidhi then, to form the ADMK (later renamed AIADMK). Periyar died on December 24, 1973, but the Dravidian majors’ espouse his political stances.

On Monday, all parties welcomed the announcement, and in an eventful turn, even the state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lent its support. “The social justice concept is among the principles of the BJP,” said BJP floor leader Nainar Nagendran in the assembly. “The BJP believes in theism and welcomes this announcement.”

BJP has often been at odds with Periyar and his ideology. In 2019, the state unit of the party stoked a controversy by tweeting a picture of Periyar alongside his wife Maniammai, whom he married at the age of 69 when she was 31 and wrote that a society has to be built without any POSCO accused. BJP’s allies, the AIADMK and PMK, also condemned the tweet, which was deleted later. Last year, unidentified miscreants smeared saffron paint on a statue of Periyar in Trichy. More infamously, actor Rajinikanth, last January, during his speech at the 50th-anniversary event of Tamil magazine ‘Thuglak’, edited by right-wing ideologue S Gurumurty, accused Periyar of disrespecting Hindu gods by referring to a rally in 1971 in Salem district.

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