Indian superstar Rajnikant’s statement about social activist E.V. R. Periyar’s rally in the southern city of Salem in the 1970s has triggered protests in Tamil Nadu, with several political parties with allegiance to the late reformer’s ideologies accusing the actor of trying to “besmirch his reputation”.
As protests mounted, the police force was deployed outside Rajnikanth’s house. But the actor’s die-hard followers began a counter-campaign in his support #IStandWithRAJINIKANTH with more than 93,000 mentions on Twitter.
Social media users hailed him for taking a tough stance and speaking up against former Tamil Nadu Social reformer EVR, as is he popularly referred to.
Rajini, the enigma! He has seen the nadir and the pinnacle of life! He strove hard to get where he is! If he takes 'Viswaroopam' he'll overshadow the minions of today's politics! If he comes into politics, it will be a spiritual entry, not a political one! #IStandWithRAJINIKANTH— SRINIVAZ VASU (@srinivazvasu) January 22, 2020
Several activists and political groups like Dravidar Kazhagam, Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam and Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam held protests on Wednesday condemning the actor for his claims made on 14 January that Periyar had held a rally in 1971 with naked posters of the mythological King Lord Rama and his Queen Sita, wearing a garland of slippers.
Police had detained at least 50 demonstrators, as they raised slogans against the Rajnikant and shown him black flags.
Protests by Thanthai periyar dravidar kazhagam after @rajinikanth refused to apologize on the #Periyar comment he made during #thuglak50 event ,more than 50 detained by police a km before Poes garden residence of #Rajinikanth pic.twitter.com/K8vxsntUAK— Sanjeevee sadagopan (@sanjusadagopan) January 21, 2020
The row over Rajnikant’s controversial remarks flared up when he refused to apologise for it, referring to a 2017 report in an English magazine as evidence to bolster his statement.
“The magazine has reported that Raman and Sita were paraded naked and garlanded with slippers in Periyar’s rally in 1971 in Salem. I have not said something that did not happen. I have not imagined it. The one who protested there in Salem....Lakshmana...has confirmed it. So, I will not apologise or express regret,” said Rajinikanth.
The late E. V. Ramasamy a.k.a Periyar actively fought for social evils like caste-based discrimination and superstition and spent five decades of his political activism as a rationalist, social activist and politician (1919-1973).
Periyar, who was regarded as the ‘Father of the Dravidian Movement’ in Tamil Nadu, was a vocal opponent of Hinduism rituals and the Hindi language. He also believed that Hinduism was nothing but a philosophy.
Hindus hugely revere Lord Ram, worshipped as the 7th incarnation of Lord Vishnu of the trinity of gods, alongside Lord Shiva and Brahma. Brahma is considered to be the creator, in Hindu mythology, while Shiva is the destroyer and Vishnu is the preserver.