Writer Perumal Murugan’s photo in hoarding puts BJP in a soup

Party blames ad agency for hoarding faux pas

November 30, 2021 10:48 pm | Updated December 01, 2021 09:18 am IST - NEW DELHI

The poster featuring Perumal Murugan. Photo: Special Arrangement

The poster featuring Perumal Murugan. Photo: Special Arrangement

A day after featuring noted Tamil author Perumal Murugan apparently as a slum dweller from Delhi on background hoardings at a public meeting in the capital, the BJP expressed regret and apologised — though only off the record — for what insiders termed a faux pas arising out of lack of oversight.

“It is an unintentional error; the hoarding was prepared by an ad agency and we have taken up the matter with it. The party’s national unit has taken exception and demanded an explanation,” a party leader said.

“Hoardings, posters as well as party literature are, as per protocol, checked before being given the go-ahead and being produced for party events; that seems to have been ignored this time for some reason,” another leader said.

Mr. Murugan was featured amid purported Delhi slum residents on a large background hoarding as BJP president J.P. Nadda and other leaders — both from the BJP’s national and State units — addressed a public meeting in Central Delhi’s Patel Nagar on Monday.

Author responds

Speaking to The Hindu , the writer said, “They have used photos of some people as representatives of the slum dwellers. My photo is also there. So, I am extremely happy to consider myself as a slum dweller.”

Mr. Murugan said he did not know who in the BJP and how the party used his photo in the poster. “I don’t know whether they used it knowingly or unknowingly and whether they knew about me,” he said.

Party sources said the BJP national president’s office had sought an explanation from its State unit for the potentially embarrassing portrayal of the Tamil author as the resident of a Delhi slum as Mr. Nadda delivered a speech as part of the party’s slum outreach program titled the “Jhuggi Samman Yatra.”

The programme, organised ahead of the civic elections next year, is part of a strategy to counter the AAP in the almost 300 civic wards of the Capital with public meetings organised at at least one, if not more, such wards on a daily basis.

The objective of the programme is to engage residents in conversations regarding the Centre’s “pro-people” schemes.

According to a party leader, particularly as the picture generated negative publicity for the party on social media, national convener of the BJP IT Cell intervened and was among members of the party’s national unit to demand an explanation.

Mr. Murugan is known for his works such as Eru Veyyil, Poonachi, Nizhal Mutram among others.

His book, Madhorubhagan , translated in English as One Part Woman , won the Sahitya Akademi Translation Award in 2016 and was also included in the longlist for the 2018 National Book Award.

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