5 Points: While PM condemns vandalism, Tamil Nadu leaders demand H Raja's arrest

New Delhi, March 7: How can one justify the culture of intolerance in a democracy?  Just a couple of days Lenin statue was razed in Tripura after BJP entered the state with elan and on a victorious note. There were sharp reactions, though divided.  A row then erupted in Tamil Nadu over BJP leader H Rajas remarks indicating that statues of rationalist leader E V Ramasamy "Periyar" could be the next to be pulled down after a Lenin statue was razed in Tripura. As the comments in a facebook post against late Ramasamy, founder of the Dravidian movement, drew condemnation from several political parties in the state, Raja deleted it while BJPs state unit distanced itself from the issue, saying it was his personal view. 

Political parties including DMK, MDMK and the Left lash out; Stalin demands Raja's arrest

The row has taken a fresh turn. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader MK Stalin is demanding his arrest, with other leaders joing him. Political parties including DMK, MDMK and the Left lashed out at Raja, a BJP National Secretary, with DMK Working President M K Stalin leading the charge seeking his detention under the Goondas Act. Condemning Rajas post, Stalin said nobody was qualified to "even touch" a statue of Periyar, as the rationalist leader was popularly known. "A senior leader like H Raja is often making comments that will trigger violence. My view is that he has to be arrested under the (stringent) Goondas Act," Stalin, Leader of Opposition in the state assembly, told reporters.

PM has condemned the vandalism act The Prime Minister has strongly disapproved incidents of vandalism reported from certain parts of the country. Incidents of toppling statues have been reported from certain parts of the country. Party's state unit President Tamilisai Soundararajan said comments made by Raja were not that of the party. "This is not an official view. I can make a comment if it was a view of my party. I consider it as his personal view", she told reporters in Tirunelveli.

What did the post say?

"Who is Lenin and what is the connection between Lenin and India? What connection India has with Communists? Today Lenin's statue removed in Tripura, tomorrow it will be the statue of EV Ramasamy in Tamil Nadu", Raja had said in the Tamil post in facebook that had been deleted. The CPI(M) has held BJP workers responsible for pulling down the statue of Lenin. 

Strong Reactions:

 MDMK founder Vaiko warned of "retaliation" by his party workers if any one caused damage to statues of Ramasamy. "If anybody tries to cause damage to (statues of) Periyar, MDMK will not keep quite and will retaliate by breaking the hands of the persons involving in such acts," he told reporters in Erode. Pattali Makkal Katchi founder S Ramadoss and Communist Party of India (Marxist) state secretary K Balakrishnan also demanded that Raja be taken into police custody, The Hindu reported.

Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan said on Twitter that political leaders should not waste their energy on the matter. “We could allow Periyar statues to be removed if Raja promises to remove all statues,” he said. “Worshipping is different from following.”

Who is Periyar? Periyar was the founder of the Dravida Kazhagam, the ideological basis for two major Dravidian parties of the state and is a revered figure in Tamil Nadu for fighting the caste system and speaking out against the exploitation of the Dravidian people in the south.