Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi founder Thol. Thirumavalavan on Sunday said the party will hold protests on December 12 across Tamil Nadu against attempts to “saffronise” Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and others leaders such as former Chief Minister Anna Durai and rationalist leader Periyar E.V. Ramasamy by right wing Hindu nationalist groups. The protests seem to be in response to Indu Makkal Katchi’s recent posters hailing Dr. Ambedkar as ‘Kaaviya Thalaivanin Pugazhai Potruvom’, which depicted him with saffron shirt and with Hindu symbols of ash on his forehead with kumkum.
Mr. Thirumavalavan told The Hindu that the attempts to portray Dr. Ambedkar (and others) as icons of Hindutva has created tension in the society.
“The Sangh Parivar is trying to appropriate Ambedkar, Periyar, and Anna, which is creating social tension. Dr. Ambedkar opposed Hinduism and said he was ashamed to be born as a Hindu and embraced Buddhism by taking 22 vows, one of which was that he will not worship Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Kali or Durga. He said he will not die as a Hindu. However, now, he is being portrayed as a Hindu saint when he died as a Buddhist. Even poet Thiruvalluvar and Buddha are now being saffronised,” he said.
When asked what he thought about the argument that underlining Ambedkar’s anti-Hinduism could alienate him from his admirers who are believers in Hinduism, Mr. Thirumavalan argued, “A true Ambedkarite cannot accept Hinduism and Sanathana Dharma. Those who accept Dr. Ambedkar must also accept his views on Hindu religion.”
Calling people to participate in Monday’s protest, Mr. Thirumavalavan earlier in a social media post said it is “indecent” on the part of Sangh Parivar to paint Ambedkar as a supporter of Hindutva when he spent his entire life to rid himself of the (Hindu) identity. “Imposing an identity that he wanted to shed is is an attempt to destroy his good intentions,” he said.
Mr. Thirumavalavan will participate in the protest in Chennai.
Meanwhile, in a statement, the Dalit Intellectual Collective (DIC) condemned Governor R.N. Ravi for his recent speech, in which he said the British tried to use B.R. Ambedkar to divide India through separate electorates for the depressed classes.
C. Lakshmanan, DIC, alleged the intention of Mr. Ravi, “as that of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Sangh Parivar”, is to denigrate and belittle Ambedkar while “venomously” trying to appropriate the late leader, who he said fought to annihilate “Hindu fundamentalism.”