Communist hero Lenin’s statue in Tripura on Monday, an act condoned by some BJP leaders, appears to have sparked a wave of similar actions across the country by BJP workers. But backlash has been swift and retaliatory vandalism by opposition supporters has also begun, prompting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to today condemn all such acts of destruction.
In Kolkata, seven people presumably not from the BJP, were arrested for vandalising the statue of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, founder of the Jan Sangh, a party from which the BJP emerged. And unconfirmed reports say that another statue of Lenin’s has been targeted, again in Tripura.
Police now fear political violence in various parts of the country and Prime Minister Modi said this morning that he strongly disapproves of acts of vandalism. The BJP’s H Raja who later deleted his tweet advocating the destruction of Periyar’s statues said today he regrets what he posted on social media and added that it was done “without his knowledge”. Today, the BJP condemned such vandalism, after party icon Mukherjee’s statue was defaced. The Centre, meanwhile, sent an advisory this morning to all states to take steps to prevent the toppling of statues and to arrest those indulging in such acts.
Already, the situation is fraught in Coimbatore and neighbouring areas, following the stoning of a Periyar statue in Vellore by a BJP town secretary and his relatives. Seemingly in retaliation, unidentified men hurled two kerosene bombs on the BJP district office in Coimbatore in the early hours today. Police have been deployed at at the locations of at least 27 Periyar statues across Chennai, and security presence outside the BJP’s offices in the area has been strengthened.
The vandalising of Periyar’s statue occurred hours after Raja, a senior BJP leader tweeted the following, in Tamil: “Who is Lenin and what is the connection between Lenin and India? What connection has India with communists? Lenin’s statue has been removed in Tripura. Today it is Lenin’s statue in Tripura, tomorrow it will be the statue of caste fanatic EVR Ramasamy (Periyar).”
The tweet, which Raja later deleted was referring to a Lenin statue in Tripura that was on Monday razed by bulldozer-armed hooligans wearing saffron shirts. They were celebrating the victory of the BJP in Assembly elections in the state. The saffron party routed the CPM, which had ruled Tripura for 25 years.
Tripura’s governor Tathagata Roy and BJP MP Subramanian Swamy condoned the action of the hooligans. Senior BJP leader Ram Madhav also tweeted his approval of the dislodging of the statue of the Communist revolutionary hero.
“Lenin is a foreigner and in a way, a terrorist, there shouldn’t be a statue of this sort of person in our country? They are welcome to put that statue inside the Communist Party headquarters and worship it if they so wish,” said
Today, however, the BJP’s West Bengal unit condemned the defacing of BJP icon Mukerjee’s statue.
“BJP West Bengal condemns barbaric act of vandalising statue of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh Bharat Keshri’s founder Dr Syama Prasad Mukherjee at Keoratola Mohasoshan, Kolkata. We demand very strong action against culprits,” said the BJP’s Sayantan Basu.
Statue intolerance moves to Kolkata, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee’s bust defaced.>