Getting a black eye in statue war

Aditya Aamir

Statues are sitting ducks. Lenin, Periyar, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee… Toppled, battered, blackened, statues can do nothing. Statues everywhere are game for pigeon, crow, and vandal. And if a BJP office in Coimbatore gets petrol-bombed, that is not enough retaliation for the statue in the Statute.
That being said, there are not many wise men in the BJP. Post-Tripura-Lenin-Statue-Topple, Subramanian Swamy, Kiran Rijiju and H Raja went after Leftist bust. And a little-known Tamil Nadu BJP small-fry called Muthu Raman took a hammer to Periyar’s head in Coimbatore. Then RSS ideologue Shyama Prasad Mukherjee’s statue got a black eye in Kolkata. Add to that a second Lenin statue brought down in Tripura, and India’s Statue-War has just begun.
Earlier, at 4 in the morning on Wednesday, a BJP office in Coimbatore was petrol-bombed. That caught attention. Prime Minister Narendra Modi “disapproved” acts of statue-vandalism. And BJP President Amit Shah “strongly condemned”. By then, a group of ultra-left students of Jadavpur University called ‘Radical’ had painted Shyama Prasad Mukherjee's face black. Tit for tat!
PM Modi spoke but a little too late. The BJP expelled Muthu Raman but the damage was already done.
In Tamil Nadu, Periyar could not be trifled with – Periyar is “not a statue”, “not a name”, it’s “an idea”, an ideology. A social reformer and ideologue, Periyar was protector of women’s rights and the oppressed. Godless, he famously said, “Those who worship gods are barbarians.” And for that assertion, millions worship Periyar. To the Dravidian, Periyar is God! Right now, Periyar’s devotees are seething.
Has the BJP bitten more than what it could chew? The BJP has been on a learning curve, and has not learned much at that. After Tripura, the BJP said toppling Lenin was organic, natural; that if one democratically-elected government’s decisions could be undone, another democratically-elected government had every right to undo!
The question was: did the BJP take the views of the people of Tripura? What about PM Modi’s slogan ‘Sabka Saat-Sabka Vikas’? Happens that if the Congress had the ‘foreign-hand excuse’, the BJP got a ‘foreign-head excuse’ after Lenin’s statue was “beheaded” in Belonia in Tripura.
There was a time when kids played the game ‘Statue’ – ‘freeze’, standstill, don’t move. Now, the BJP is playing topple, push, shove. Even with a string of victories to crow about, the BJP has been allowing its covert and overt operatives to spiral out of control.
Can their brains be rearranged completely? Can a psychiatric diagnosis be made to determine if BJP workers were troubled souls under the influence of god knows what. The problem is: medication just cannot stop stupid.
The problem is also that despite being in power at the Centre and in over 20 states, the BJP is still part of the resistance – toppling statues, loping off metal heads for dear life. The way it has been going about it, it bordered on hysteria. It is like mowing grass to bring to relief the fiction that 99.9% of Indians are Hindus and must be helped to return to their origins. This kind of socio-political advocacy is unbelievable, dangerous.
Has the BJP put India on Code Orange? Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy asked what was wrong with toppling Lenin, he was after all a “foreign terrorist”. MOS Home Kiran Rijiju asked ‘So what?’ News was that after toppling Lenin’s statue in Belonia, Tripura, “they played football with his head.”
Goalposts shifted after Tripura went to BJP’s head. The next game was played with Periyar’s head. And then the payback in Kolkata. It looked like BJP’s good showing in Nagaland turned heads and the BJP into a party of head-hunters.
Why Periyar? That is because EV Ramasamy alias Periyar is an old enemy, with the memory going back three thousand years, maybe more, though Periyar himself lived not more than a century ago. He was an anti-untouchability activist and the first leader of the Dravidian movement. The Dravidian and the ‘Aryan’, the two wouldn’t share a plate or a surname.
Strange things have been happening in Modi’s ‘New India’. To label Periyar ‘casteist’ was so out of sync with the Dravidian. How could the Dravidian poster-boy be casteist? If anything, caste was an ‘Aryan’ construct. H Raja and the BJP have conspired to turn logic on its head. History, too.
A post on H Raja’s Facebook page read: “Who is Lenin? What is the relevance he holds in India? What is the link between communalism and India? Lenin’s statues were destroyed in Tripura, tomorrow, in Tamil Nadu, casteist Periyar’s statues will be destroyed.”
Was it deliberate? The Dravidians give the impression they are godless pagans. And where there is no god to split a divide, creating caste-divisions might just do the trick – polarize. Godless Tamil Nadu fits the bill for the Brahmin-Bania party.
Is H Raja coherent? Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a thing going with the AIADMK. And here you have a BJP office-bearer talking out of his hat. DMK leader MK Stalin has called for Raja’s arrest under the Goonda Act. But Raja was not acting alone. BJP youth wing vice president SG Suryah chipped in with “Can’t wait for the fall of EV Ramasamy statues in Tamil Nadu.”
For the Sangh Parivar, Periyar is Bharat’s Enemy No.1. The BJP believes and insists that more than 99.9% of the people in Tamil Nadu are spiritual, and Periyar’s statues carry the pagan message “whoever worships God are barbarians, whoever preaches God are rascals and whosoever keeps faith in God are fools.” H Raja has long wanted to “beat Periyar’s statues with slippers.” There is something terribly wrong with H Raja!  (IPA)

Sunday, 25 March, 2018