BJP on damage control mode after Periyar statue vandalised, Amit Shah issues ‘warning’

Home Ministry issued an advisory to states asking them to take all necessary precautions to prevent vandalism.
BJP on damage control mode after Periyar statue vandalised, Amit Shah issues ‘warning’
BJP on damage control mode after Periyar statue vandalised, Amit Shah issues ‘warning’
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The BJP at the Centre appears to be on damage control mode in the wake of acts of vandalism reported in several parts of the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday spoke to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh over incidents of toppling of statues in various parts of the country post the BJP's victory in Tripura.

Following the talks, the Home Ministry issued an advisory to states asking them to take all necessary precautions to prevent such incidents. "Incidents of toppling of statues have been reported from certain parts of the country. Union Ministry of Home Affairs has taken serious note of such incidents of vandalism," an official statement said. Rajnath Singh has expressed strong disapproval over such incidents, it said. "Persons indulging in such acts must be sternly dealt with and booked under relevant provisions of law," the statement added.

Violence erupted in various parts of the country, including Tripura and West Bengal, after two statues of Russian communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin were razed by the BJP activists in southern Tripura. In Tamil Nadu’s Vellore district, a statue of Dravidian and anti-caste revolutionary EV Ramasamy, who is popularly known as Periyar, was damaged by two drunk men – one belonging to the BJP and another to CPI. The act of vandalism followed Facebook posts by BJP members, including National Secretary H Raja, celebrating the razing of the Lenin statue in Tripura while warning that Periyar’s would be next in Tamil Nadu.

Following the vandalism on Tuesday, BJP President Amit Shah tweeted that anyone involved with destroying any statue would face stern action from the party.  

In a series of tweets, the BJP cheif said, “As a party, we in the BJP believe that a wide range of ideas and ideologies can coexist in India. This is exactly how the makers of our Constitution envisioned our great nation to be. India’s diversity and the vibrant spirit of debate and discussion is what strengthens us. The recent issue on destroying of statues is extremely unfortunate. We as a party do not support the bringing down of anybody’s statue. Our main aim is to bring a transformative change in the lives of the people. We are humbled by the fact that our ethos and work has endeared us to people all across India and our alliance is serving in over 20 states as a part of the Government.”

Soon after, BJP Tamil Nadu president Tamilisai Soundararajan issued a statement expelling R Muthuraman, the party functionary who was arrested for damaging the Periyar statue in Thirupathur in Vellore district.

She had earlier tweeted stating, “Tamilnadu & Tamil people are known for giving high respects to all. Strictly condemn any activities that insults any leaders & statue. We should value the contribution of all leaders.”

On Tuesday, an alarming remark was posted from the verified Facebook page of BJP National Secretary H Raja, stating, "Who is Lenin? What is his connection to India? What is the connection of communists to India? Lenin's statue was destroyed in Tripura. Today Lenin's statue, tomorrow Tamil Nadu's EVR Ramaswami's statue. "

His remarks stoked controversy with a number of Dravidian leaders including DMK’s working President MK Stalin hitting out. Stalin said, “No one can even dare to touch EVR’s statue. H Raja’s comments are done to incite violence. He has been repeatedly doing this. He should be arrested and Goondas Act slapped against him.”

As soon as the DMK opposed the comment, H Raja distanced himself from the Facebook post and said that the page was maintained by various administrators. The post was deleted and on Wednesday, H Raja offered “heartfelt regret” for the comments that were posted without his permission.

Several other members of BJP in the state, including the Vice President of BJP Youth wing SG Suryah made similar observations. In his tweet, Suryah says, “BJP successfully completed the fall of Lenin in #Tripura! Can't wait for the fall of EV Ramasamy statues in Tamil Nadu.”

While various groups protested in several parts of Tamil Nadu over the comments on Periyar’s statue, on Wednesday, several petrol bombs were hurled at the BJP office in Coimbatore by bike-borne activists belonging to the Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam (TPDK). While no one was hurt in the attack, reports state that the name board of the office was on the floor and had been trampled and one of the bombs hit the window too. Police have since arrested three members of the TPDK. Police suspect that the attackers, who came on two bikes, could have been among the protesters who were out on the streets in Coimbatore on Tuesday to agitate against the comments made by BJP leaders recently.

(With IANS inputs)

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