BJP State president K. Annamalai on Sunday shared a short video clip of DMK MP T.R. Baalu’s speech on the social media and criticised him for “taking pride” in demolishing temples.
However, many pointed out that Mr. Annamalai had posted an edited clip of the video without showing the context in which Mr. Baalu was speaking at an event in Madurai on Saturday, January 28, 2023, in support of the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project. It was attended by leaders of the DMK, the Dravidar Kazhagam and the Secular Progressive Alliance.
In a tweet with a 40-second edited clip of Mr. Baalu’s speech, Mr. Annamalai said, “DMK men take pride in demolishing 100-year-old Hindu temples”. He said this was the “very reason” his party wanted the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department dissolved and the temples “freed from the clutches of the government”.
In the shared clip, Mr. Baalu was heard saying that he had demolished 100-year-old temples. It implied that the old temples were the ones for Saraswathi, Lakshmi, and Parvati that stood on GST Road in his Lok Sabha constituency. He said he demolished them despite warning by his supporters that he would not get votes.
However, many people, predominantly supporters of the DMK, responded to the tweet and showed a slightly longer version of his speech. In that, Mr. Baalu was heard saying that he managed to convince the people for demolition by building another, more spacious temple.
Not just temples, mosques as well
Mr. Baalu was recollecting the incident from the time when he served as the Union Minister for Highways in the United Progressive Alliance government. He said he had demolished mosques, temples and churches for constructing highways at many places.
He recalled an incident in which his department had to demolish a 100-year-old mosque in West Bengal despite concerns raised by veteran Communist leader Jyoti Basu.
Mr. Baalu was talking in the context of opposition to the Sethusamudram project by a section of Hindus on the ground that it would affect Ram Setu. Terming the belief in the existence of Ram Setu as unscientific, he stressed the need for not bringing religious beliefs into such matters.
His speech became controversial in another aspect as he said he would not hesitate to chop the hands of anyone trying to lay their hands on Chief Minister M.K. Stalin or Dravidar Kazhagam president K. Veeramani.