BJP leaders and supporters have demanded that the DMK leader apologise for an earlier speech where he said, “As long as you are a Hindu, you are a Shudra. As long as you are a Shudra, you are the son of a prostitute.”

DMK MP A Raja speaking into a micScreengrab
news Controversy Tuesday, September 20, 2022 - 19:48

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader and Lok Sabha Member of Parliament A Raja has hit back at demands that he apologise for an earlier speech. Raja sparked a controversy on September 6 when he said at a public meeting, “As long as you are a Hindu, you are a Shudra. As long as you are a Shudra, you are the son of a prostitute.” BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) leaders have been demanding an apology from the DMK joint general secretary, calling his remarks anti-Hindu. Raja however dismissed the demands on Monday, September 19, saying he had no reason to apologise.

Raja, who is the MP from Nilgiris, said he wasn’t anti-Hindu, nor was the DMK or the Dravidian movement. Citing the fight for reservations for Backward Classes, Raja said, “I will tell you who the real enemy is. In 1951, Periyar brought in reservation in Tamil Nadu for Backward Classes. Two Brahmins went to the Supreme Court challenging this reservation. The SC said the reservation would not be valid for Backward Classes. Who are these Backward Class people? They are Gounder, Thevar, Nadar, Yadavar, Vanniyar, Chettiyar and Naidu. Who asked for reservation for them? It was the Dravidian movement. It was Periyar and Annadurai. For the 60% people who are Backward Class — who are Hindu — it was the Dravida Kazhagam and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam that fought for and got reservation.”

BJP leaders have filed multiple complaints seeking action against Raja for his remarks on Hinduism, made during an earlier speech. Raja hit back at BJP, asking the crowd, “I am saying this to all the people on this stage. Kongu Vellalar Gounder, Mukkulathor, Nadar, Vanniyar, Naickar, Chettiar, Yadavar, Kuyavar, I say this to all of you. Did we not ask the Union government for reservation for all of them? Are you all not Hindu? Isn’t it for these Hindus that we asked for reservation? The people who opposed it were Brahmins and Rajputs and upper castes.”

The DMK leader made a distinction among Hindus — people belonging to upper castes, like Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi, the Sankaracharya, and Brahmins in general; and people belonging to Shudra castes. Here, he named OBC BJP leaders like Annamalai and Vanathi Srinivasan, and AIADMK leaders like Edappadi Palaniswami and O Paneerselvam.

Raja also quoted Periyar as a recall to his controversial statement about Shudras. “It’s my words that are problematic right, so let me quote Periyar,” Raja said, reading out from Periyar’s speech in 1973. Periyar was talking about a Dravidar Kazhagam resolution which said that the term “Shudra” must go, passed several days before the speech he made on December 19, 1973, Raja said. “Until now, no one has opposed the resolution. Does anyone have the courage to say, ‘You must remain a ‘Thevadiya Magan’,” Raja quoted Periyar’s speech. ‘Thevadiya’ is a derogatory caste-based term for prostitute.

Raja on September 6 had said that it was a difficult time and that one should not hesitate to question the identity of a Hindu. He had also said that a person would remain a Shudra and an untouchable as long as they were Hindu, and a person was a ‘son of a prostitute’ as long as they were a Shudra. He had further stated that the roots of sanatana dharma could be cut, only if people questioned if they wanted to be the son of a prostitute and if they wanted to be an untouchable. This comment drew flak from right-wing supporters, who accused him of spewing hatred against Hindus and sought an apology from him.

A complaint was also filed by BJP state vice-president Karu Nagarajan, stating that the speech intended to, “destroy Hindu religious beliefs and to spread rumours, and to incite religious violence in Tamil Nadu.” BJP state president of IT and Social Media CTR Nirmal Kumar, on Tuesday, September 20, filed a complaint against Raja with Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla seeking action against A Raja for his “unethical and impropriety act of publishing hate speech for political gains,” and sought to bar him from contesting elections.

Also Watch: A Raja: இந்து மதம் குறித்த பேச்சுக்கு மன்னிப்பு கேட்க முடியாது

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.