Chennai: Even as the political slugfest over statue vandalism continues to rage across the nation, top leaders of the ruling party in Tamil Nadu — AIADMK — seem to be striking a discordant note with each other on the debate.
While both Chief Minister Palaniswami and his deputy Panneerselvam criticized the objectionable Facebook post against Dravidian movement stalwart Periyar, their words seemed to disagree with each other.
All AIADMK MLAs gathered at the party headquarters on Thursday to address the issue of a statue of Periyar being defaced in Vellore soon after Tamil Nadu BJP leader H Raja wrote a Facebook post calling him a “casteist”.
Edapadi K Palaniswami said, "H Raja has said that his social media administrator wrote the Facebook against Periyar and those remarks are condemnable. Strict action should be taken against this administrator who incited violence."
On the other hand, Panneerselvam said, "H Raja should apologise for the statement that was posted on his Facebook account. The justification given by H Raja is ridiculous."
While Panneerselvam directly held Raja responsible for the comments, Palaniswami put the onus on the administrator.
Sources say, all is not so well within the merged AIADMK. Many from both sides of the two factions headed by Palaniswami and Panneerselvam admitted that the hearts of the two sides haven't merged.
In February, Panneerselvam had said that it was at the insistence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he had merged with the EPS faction. Now, looking at such contradictory statements by the CM and his deputy, political analysts say EPS is trying to maintain a healthy relationship with the BJP while OPS is trying to go on an anti-BJP path.
Political commentator RK Radhakrishnan observes, “If I didn't know EPS and OPS well enough, I'd be tempted to say that this is them playing good cop bad cop. But that is not the case. OPS wants to chart an anti-BJP path because EPS and two of his ministers look firmly entrenched in the pro-BJP group. There's no doubt that what Raja said was atrocious. The fact that EPS will not even condemn this transgression shows how scared and beholden he is to the BJP.”