A statue of Dravidar Kazhagam founder and social reformer Periyar E.V. Ramasamy near a taluk office in Tiruppattur was vandalised on Tuesday evening.
The vandalism followed BJP national secretary H. Raja’s post on Facebook, advocating the removal of Periyar’s statues.
According to the police, Francis, town deputy secretary of the CPI, and Muthuraman, town secretary of the BJP, reportedly hurled stones at the statue at about 7.30 p.m. The duo were relatives and were drunk.
The statue bore a slight damage on the face and hands, the police said. It is still not clear why they threw stones at the statue.
“Today Lenin, tomorrow casteist Periyar”
In his post, Mr Raja referred to the uprooting of a statue of revolutionary communist leader Lenin in Tripura , where the BJP scored a massive victory in the Assembly elections, and said, “Today it is Lenin in Tripura, tomorrow in Tamil Nadu (it will be) casteist Periyar’s statue.” Later in the day, the post was taken down.
Mr. Raja’s comments drew strong reactions, with DMK working president and Leader of the Opposition M.K. Stalin demanding the BJP leader’s arrest under the Goondas Act for repeatedly seeking to incite violence. PMK founder S. Ramadoss and CPI(M) State secretary K. Balakrishnan too demanded his arrest, while MDMK founder Vaiko threatened to sever the hands of anyone who attempted to touch Periyar’s statue with evil intentions.
Mr. Stalin said nobody had the locus standi to even touch the statue of Periyar. “Mr. Raja has been expressing views aimed at inciting violence and he should be arrested under the Goondas Act,” he told reporters.
TNCC president Su. Thirunavukkarasar condemned Mr. Raja’s comments, saying he had become a habitual hate-campaigner against leaders of Tamil Nadu.
“No one in Tamil Nadu will take the comments on Periyar lightly, and Mr. Raja should correct himself,” he said.
Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan called upon political leaders not to waste their energy on the issue. “We could allow the removal of Periyar statues if Mr. Raja promised to remove all statues. Worshipping is different from following,” he tweeted.
Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar MLA T.T.V. Dhinakaran said Mr. Raja’s comments smacked of arrogance and deserved condemnation. “He should retract his immature and irresponsible comments. Anyone who insults the sentiments of the people and incites violence should be subjected to legal action,” he said.