Chennai, Nov 9 (PTI) Tamil Nadu BJP's stand on removing statues of rationalist leader Periyar (Ramasamy) installed near temples remained unchanged and this would be made a poll issue, the party's state chief K Annamalai said on Thursday, even as a DMK Minister hit out at him on the matter.
The party's objection to the presence of Periyar's statue in front of the Sri Ranganathaswamy temple, Srirangam, reflected the collective voice of the people who were opposed to it. More so, the "offensive words" of Periyar inscribed on a plaque at the statue hurt the sentiments of devotees, he said.
"He (Periyar) had said 'there's no God. Those who preached God are fools. Those who spread God are rogues, and those who worship God are barbarians," Annamalai said and added that the plaque containing these words would be removed when the BJP is voted to power in the state.
"Then, Periyar's statue will be confined to where it should be - in the public domain with due respect - and not in front of temples," Annamalai told reporters here.
He wondered if such "offensive words" would be allowed in front of mosques or churches in the state and sought to know if the ruling DMK and its allies - the Congress and the Communists - would cherish the idea of installing the social reformer's statue in front of their party offices inscribing his critical comments on the respective parties.
On Tuesday, while addressing a rally as part of his state-wide padayatra: 'En Mann, En Makkal' (My land, my people) in the temple town of Srirangam in Tiruchirappalli district, Annamalai said the statues of the rationalist leader kept in front of temples will be removed when the BJP comes to power in Tamil Nadu.
Also, he had said the state Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department would be wound up when the BJP gets elected in the 2026 Assembly elections.
At a press conference at Kamalalayam, the BJP state headquarters here, he said the BJP never insulted Periyar but gave due respect to him. However, the atheistic inscriptions on Periyar statues questioning the existence of God would be removed.
Meanwhile, state Higher Education Minister K Ponmudy said Annamalai had no locus standi to talk about Periyar. "Annamalai is waiting for an opportunity to talk so that he can constantly be in the limelight," he added.
Iconic leaders like Periyar, and former Chief Ministers: C N Annadurai, M Karunanidhi and C Kamaraj were indispensable. Their statues have been placed to spread their message and ideology to the masses, the Minister said. PTI JSP SS