A day after BJP National Secretary H Raja’s Facebook post sparked controversy and has since resulted in tit-for-tat violence in Tamil Nadu, the leader expressed “his heartfelt regret” on Wednesday.
Taking to Facebook, Raja said, “Yesterday the admin has posted without my permission that EVR's statue will be demolished after Lenin's. That's why I have deleted it. Opinions should be countered with opinions, not violence. I have no intention of hurting anyone. If anyone has been hurt, then I express regret from the bottom of my heart. Acts like damaging EVR's statues are not acceptable. In a peaceful way, we have to bring together Hindus and work towards protecting nationalism and faith in Tamil Nadu. It is the time to involve ourselves in the path shown by Periyar and Muthuramalinga Thevar.”
His post comes hours after several petrol bombs were hurled at BJP’s Coimbatore office at 3.30am on Wednesday. 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 Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam (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.
The Coimbatore incident followed a case of vandalism in Vellore on Tuesday when two men hurled stones at the state of EV Ramasamy, famously known as 'Periyar'. In that incident, the police said that one of the miscreants belonged to the BJP, while the other belonged to the CPI. They were both drunk. The two men damaged the glasses and the nose of the statue.
The two separate incidents came after BJP members in Tamil Nadu celebrated the fall of the Communist government in Tripura, while issuing a warning to Dravidian parties.
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 soon deleted.
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.”
BJP National General Secretary P Muralidhar Rao also distanced the party from such caustic remarks and said that the party doesn't subscribe to it.
BJP does not subscribe to any kind of provoking or disrespectful statements and actions of vandalism towards leaders like Periyar. We condemn outrightly those people who are indulging in such actions.— P Muralidhar Rao (@PMuralidharRao) March 7, 2018
A number of groups have planned to protest over the remarks on Wednesday.