The defacement of the statues of Thanthai Periyar EV Ramasamy and Vladimir Lenin by disciplined foot soldiers of the Sangh Parivar constitutes a sign of the times. H Raja’s hate-filled tweet warrants his dismissal from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and his prosecution. The people of Tamil Nadu cannot be a punch bag for the likes of H Raja. Hopefully, the widespread protests in the state are taken note of by the Hindu revivalists. The contention that the desecration of Periyar’s statue was committed under the influence of alcohol by a BJP functionary and his accomplice, the belated apology tendered by H Raja, party state unit’s distancing from the habitual offender’s tweet, BJP President Amit Shah’s stern warning to party men and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s disapproval of acts of vandalism cannot entirely undo the damage and the grievous hurt caused to the Tamil psyche and sentiment.
The angry backlash over the defilement of Periyar’s statue seems to have driven the BJP to strike a hasty retreat. The tit-for-tat hurling of a petrol bomb at the BJP office in Coimbatore and the defilement of the bust of Syama Prasad Mookerjee in Kolkata point to the possibility of precipitation of tensions and break-out of a vicious spiral of violence — a scenario that needs to be averted at all costs. The statue toppling spree is part of the ideological and cultural wars waged by the RSS-BJP combine to bring in a monolithic culture and reintroduce upper-caste dominance. These goals are not easy to achieve in today’s India and are sure to be meet with resistance. The poison of religious, racial or ideological hatred have no place in our pluralist democracy.
G David Milton
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