Chennai: Politicians across party lines, barring the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have condemned actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth after he refused to apologise for his statement on social reformer Periyar EV Ramasamy.
A day after Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president MK Stalin said the aspiring politician must think before speaking on such issues, D Jayakumar, a minister in the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government, said Rajinikanth should apologise for his statement on Periyar, considered the father of the Dravidian movement.
“He is doing cheap politics by talking about an incident that never happened. We should bring an end to such cheap acts,” Jayakumar said.
Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam said, “It is only because of Periyar that people like me have been able to reach here. Thoughts of Periyar should be kept on the highest pedestal and there should be utmost respect for him. People should understand him before speaking about him.”
While addressing an event of Tamil magazine 'Thuglak' on January 14, Rajinikanth 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) had featured and no news outlet had published it.”
The DMK’s TKS Elangovan said the popular actor’s narrative is a lie.
“Rajinikanth should know the fact before talking about such a great leader. Periyar is one of the greatest Tamil leaders and is worshipped by crores of people. It is not good if someone is making statements without checking facts, but only after reading some articles. Forty years ago, when this lie was uttered (in 'Thuglak' magazine), not a single Tamil had believed it. How can Rajini say the same thing again after such a long time?” Elangovan said.
The Congress also urged Rajinikanth to focus on burning issues like protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act if he is keen to enter the political debate.
Karti Chidambaram, who represents the Sivaganga district in the Lok Sabha, said it is unfair to judge a change-maker by a few incidents instead of making a holistic view.
“Every historical leader will have many contradictions/controversies be it Gandhi/Churchill, etc. A holistic view is needed. To judge a historical change maker by a few incidents or utterances is patently unfair. Periyar’s contribution to Tamil Nadu is humongous. @rajinikanth If so keen to enter into a public debate must start with his views on current issues. #CAAProtest #JNUattack #Kashmir etc,” the MP wrote on Twitter.
However, BJP leader Narayanan Thirupathy said the superstar was speaking facts and had even provided documents to back his claims.
“Whatever Rajinikanth said is true. He also showed documents to prove his claims. People fear Rajinikanth and hence, they are making this an issue. Even today, they are doing this in Tamil Nadu and insulting Hindu gods. In fact, they (Dravidian outfits) should apologise,” Thirupathy said.