Superstar Rajinikanth has achieved god-like status especially in Tamil Nadu and has made his intentions clear about joining the state’s politics in the near future. It seems that with his stand on Periyar, the Thaliava is no mood to be politically correct and will not apologise for unmasking the true face of Periyar inspite of the protests from a certain section of pro-Tamil groups. Tamil superstar Rajinikanth refused to apologise to protesters who are up in arms over his controversial remark on social reformer E V Ramasamy ‘Periyar’. On Tuesday, Rajinikanth came out of his residence with copies of news publications and to back his claim and said “I will not apologise”.
Rajinikanth, in his address at the 50th anniversary-cum- readers’ connect event of Tamil magazine ‘Thuglak’ on January 14 in Chennai, had 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.” This comment led to a huge outcry from the followers of Periyar who planned to lay siege on Rajinikanth’s house. Rajinikanth, in turn, came out of his house with copies of publications and spoke to the media and said he won’t say sorry.
Holding copies of the news clippings, Rajinikanth said he did not make up things about Periyar in his speech and will not apologise. “There is a debate on an issue I spoke on and which happened in 1971. I didn’t make up what I said. People are saying I made it up but I didn’t. Sorry, I won’t apologise,” said Rajinikanth. With copies of publications to support his claim of Periyar undressing the images of Bhagwan Sri Ram and Sita during a rally in 1971, Rajinikanth said, “I have magazines here to show what I said was true. I am telling what I saw. They are telling what they saw.”
For the uninitiated, Periyar marked the beginning of the toxic Dravidian politics in TN and the South as a whole. EV Ramaswamy Naiker (later known as ‘Periyar’) was a proponent of the colonial Aryan invasion theory. Periyar was in his own words anti-Brahmin/Brahmin-phobic. Periyar in public discourse used to narrate a tale of his pilgrimage to Kashi wherein he claims he was asked to leave a pilgrim’s lodging because he was not a Brahmin. He further claims that he was not given food – rather strange claims considering that the Naiker community was considered a forward community even by the British and that Kashi nor the surroundings have ever had had any documented instances of this kind of outright refusal to offer food to a Hindu pilgrim. Hell, the region had itself been ruled by Muslims for centuries.
Periyar believed in atheism but still claimed that Tamil Nadu should be a Dravidian state – ironic as the so called Dravidian state had been a bulwark of Hindu culture and one of the regions with the largest number of temples ever built. The poster boys of Dravidianism itself – the Cholas and Pandyas had been ardent and fanatic Shaivites. So what was this confused atheist bickering on about? He claimed that all non-Tamil speakers are Aryan invaders of Tamil Nadu – ironic again as Tamils themselves worship most of the so-called ‘Aryan Gods.’ Shiva, Karthik, Vishnu and various local forms of Parvathi are wildly popular deities in whose honour even today, people of all castes organize grand village level processions and temple-fairs.
Rajinikanth, normally seen as a God by the people, but Periyarites are irked by his comments and he is brave enough to fight back, and stand his ground which would bode well for the future of Tamil Nadu politics.