Periyar birthday: Stalin’s decision to mark September 17 as Social Justice Day sparks row in Tamil Nadu

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September 09, 2021 4:46 PM

BJP Tamil Nadu chief K.Annamalai, however, accused the DMK government of sidelining other reformists of the state.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin announced earlier this week that the DMK government will observe September 17 as Social Justice Day as a tribute to the father of the Dravidian movement ‘Periyar’ EV Ramasamy. September 17 marks the birth anniversary of Ramasamy. Stalin said that the day will be observed annually starting this year. Announcing the move, Stalin heaped praise upon Periyar and said his ideology reflected social justice, self-respect, rationalism, equality, and brotherhood. The DMK chief also said that Periyar’s ideology laid the foundation for Tamil society’s growth.

While the BJP’s state unit president has come down heavily on the DMK government over the decision, the party’s floor leader in the House supported the move. Speaking in the assembly, BJP floor leader Nainar Nagendran said that the social justice concept is one of the principles of the BJP and welcomed the announcement. It came as a surprise for many as the BJP has been at the odds with the Periyar’s ideology.

BJP Tamil Nadu chief K.Annamalai, however, accused the DMK government of sidelining other reformists of the state. Speaking in Coimbatore, Annamalai said that besides Periyar, the DMK government should also highlight other leaders like Mahakavi Bharathiyar who fought for social justice.

Back in 2019, then state BJP chief had created a controversy after he posted a picture of Periyar and his wife Maniammai (Periyar married 31-year-old Maniammai at the age of 69) on Twitter and said that a society has to be built without any POSCO accused. He later deleted the tweet after the uproar. In 2002 when then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister had proposed to install a statue of Periyar at Ambedkar Park in Lucknow, the BJP had strongly opposed the move. The saffron outfits had then threatened to take to streets and even forcibly immerse the statue in the Gomati river if and when installed. The plan was later dropped.

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