The Dravidar Vidhuthalai Kazhagam alleged that Rajinikanth had spread misinformation about Periyar during the 50th anniversary event of Thuglak magazine.

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news Controversy Friday, January 17, 2020 - 17:44

Members of the Dravidar Vidhuthalai Kazhagam, a splinter group of the Dravidar Kazhagam, have filed a complaint against actor Rajinikanth for the content of his speech at Thuglak magazine’s 50th anniversary event. The complaint was filed on Friday with the Coimbatore Commissioner of Police.

Nehrudas, Coimbatore district head of Dravidar Vidhuthalai Kazhagam sought action against the actor under IPC sections 153 (a) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc.) and 505 (Statements conducing to public mischief). The complaint alleged that Rajinikanth, during his speech in Chennai, spread misinformation about Dravidian leader and rationalist thinker Periyar with the intent to malign his reputation.  

During the 50th anniversary event on January 14, the actor who was invited up on stage spoke about Thuglak’s Founder Cho Ramaswamy, the magazine’s reputation through the years and his thoughts on the current state of journalism in the country among other things. 

In a manner of highlighting Cho’s rise to fame as a journalist, Rajini recalled an event from 1971 that apparently took place in Salem. Rajini had said that Cho Ramaswamy’s Thuglak was the only magazine to cover an event by Dravidar Kazhagam leader and rationalist thinker EV Ramasamy, also known as Periyar in which “Ram and Sita’s effigies were paraded without clothes, garlanded with footwear”.

“Cho strongly condemned the event by Periyar immediately and Thuglak was the only magazine to do so. This brought a bad name to the ruling DMK who did not want the magazine to be circulated. The issue was seized by the government but Cho reprinted it and the magazine was sold in black. What was sold for Rs 10, was then sold for Rs 50 and Rs 60. Dr Kalaingar had (inadvertently) promoted the magazine in that way and in the next issue Cho had thanked him as its publicity manager…” he says with a chuckle continuing his speech.

Rajini’s reference to the 1971 incident in which he claims effigies of Ram and Sita were paraded without clothes during an event by Periyar has now resulted in the complaint. It is unclear if Rajini was referring to some of the early versions (pripr to 1974) of the state’s Ravana Leela, where the effigies of Ram, Lakshman and Sita would be burned. 

The Ravana Leela was Dravidar Kazhagam’s direct counter to the Delhi’s famed Ram Leela, and the first big one was held in Tamil Nadu in 1974, a year after Periyar's death. In 1973, before his death, Periyar had mentioned in his personal notes that in response to the Ram Leela being conducted every year, a Ravana Leela in a similar fashion needs to be held in Tamil Nadu. 

The 1974 event gained national recognition following which Maniyammai, Periayar's wife who had taken over as the leader of Dravidar Kazhagam, Duraisamy of Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam and 12 others were arrested and booked by the police.

Also read: Ravana Leela 1974: When Periyarists slayed Rama to protest Indira Gandhi’s Ram Leela

Just before making sharing the 1971 incident on stage, Rajinikanth began by saying, “There are people who reach heights of fame in their field with the help of their rivals. It all depends on how they handle certain situations.” 

He claimed that Cho’s fame multiplied with help from two of his main detractors - M Bhaktavatsalam, the last Congress Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and Karunanidhi.  Rajini then lists out three incidents to prove his above statement and the 1971 event is one among them.