Chennai: Days after actor-politician Rajinikanth stirred the hornet’s nest with his remarks about Periyar, a statue of the social reformer was vandalised near Chengalpattu in Tamil Nadu on Friday.
The vandalism comes after Rajinikanth, in his address at the 50th anniversary-cum-readers; connect event of Tamil magazine 'Thuglak' on January 14, said, "In 1971, at Salem, Periyar took out a rally in which undressed images of Lord Sri Ramachandramoorthy and Sita — with a garland of sandal — featured and no news outlet published it."
The remarks soon triggered a political slugfest, with Dravidian outfits demanding that the actor apologise. Rajinikanth, however, said whatever he had said was true and he stood by his statement.
“Whatever I spoke about has become a controversy. I read out from what was printed in Hindu and Outlook. I didn't say anything out of imagination. I'll not apologise for what I said…I have not said anything out of imagination. I'm saying what I have seen and they (Dravidian outfit) are saying what they have seen," he said.
Members of a Dravidian outfit accused him of "uttering a blatant lie" about social reformer Periyar, burnt the actor’s effigies and filed a police complaint against him.
Wading into the controversy, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president MK Stalin had said he had a “piece of advice” for Rajinikanth. “I have an advice for him. When he talks about Periyar, who fought for almost 95 years for the Tamil people, he should think and speak,” Stalin was quoted as saying in The Hindu.
Periyar, who launched the self-respect movement in the state, was a staunch atheist and had founded the Dravidar Kazhagam, the parent organisation of the DMK.
This is not the first time Periyar’s statue has been targeted. In April 2019, a life-size statue of Periyar was found vandalised at Aranthangi in Tamil Nadu. The statue located near the government hospital was found with the head dislodged and lying on the ground.
In Vellore in March 2018, another Periyar statue was broken after senior leader H Raja said all statues of the social reformer should be vandalised.