Big protests erupted in Tamil Nadu after the statue of Dravidian icon E V Ramasamy “Periyar” was vandalised. The statue was vandalised hours after a BJP leader, H Raja, wrote a Facebook post supporting the toppling of Communist icon Vladimir Lenin’s statue in Tripura by a crowd. Raja also said in the post that Periyar’s statue could be next.
EV Ramasamy “Periyar” is considered as the pioneer of Dravidian Nationalism. Popularly known as Thanthai Periyar or Periyar, he is known for his self-respect movement and for founding Dravidar Kazhagam. Periyar’s Kazhagam later resulted in the foundation of mainstream Tamil political parties like DMK and AIADMK. As per Tamil Nadu’s Information and Public Relation Department website, Ramasamy was also hailed as ‘Pagutharivu Paghalavan’. He was born to Venkata Naicker and Chinna Thayammal on 17.09.1879.
Periyar held many honorary positions like president, secretary, vice-president etc in several public institutions, number of association of agriculturists, Devasthanam (Religious Trust), Sangeetha Sabha etc.
Periyar had joined Indian National Congress in 1920. He had a strong affinity towards Gandhi. An activist against the practice of untouchability, Periyar is famous for his struggle in Vaikkom, Kerala District in 1924 where earned the title “Vaikkom Hero’.
Periyar left Congress in 1925 and started a weekly, “Kudiyarasu” (Republic). The leader started writing extensively on issues like eradication of caste, re-marriage of widows, opposition of Orthodoxy and superstition. The title of “Periyar” was awarded to him in 1938 during the then Tamil Nadu Women’s Conference in Chennai.
In 1944, Periyar declared that Justice Party led by him would henceforth be known as the Dravidar Kazhagam, or “Dravidian Association”.
Meanwhile, Raja’s remark was condemned by several political parties in the state, while BJP’s Tamil Nadu unit distanced itself from the issue. A number of political parties including DMK, MDMK and the Left slammed Raja, who is a BJP national secretary.
DMK working president M K Stalin sought the detention of Raja under the Goondas Act. Raja later apologised and deleted his comments.