Immediately two days after the BJP toppled the CPM government in Tripura to establish its foothold in the North East, a statue of Marxist icon Vladimir Lenin was vandalized in Tripura’s Belonia region of South Tripura district, followed by the razing of another statue in Sabroom region, both the events sparking a thread of controversy among the political circles.
The war of ideologies over the vandalization of statues comes just on the threshold of theelections, the assembly elections and the 2019 elections in tow, peddling in a political vendetta of sorts. Large-scale violence and destruction of CPM offices were also reported from different parts of Tripura beefing up security at different places.
This entire incident catapulted a series of reactions and face-offs between the political parties who decried the violence as “Communism phobia” and an insult to the legacy of great leaders.
Soon after the Lenin statue was bulldozed the focus shifted to another incident of malevolence when a statue of Dravidian activist E.V Ramaswamy Periyar was allegedly destroyed by BJP workers in Vellore district of Tamil Nadu
And the repercussions of this was felt yet again in West Bengal when some local miscreants vandalized the bust of Bharatiya Jana Sangh founder Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, a statue of Baba Saheb Ambedkar was razed in the city of Meerut, UP and in a worst case scenario a statue of Mahatma Gandhi was vandalized in Kerala’s Kannur district.
There was hardly anyone in this country who was unperturbed by the rippling effect of all these incidents. We certainly cannot belittle the fact that all these leaders have led us on the road to inspiration at some point or the other, notwithstanding the immediate action echoed from the Prime Minister’s office vehemently opposing the attacks asking Home Minister Rajnath Singh to crack down on the perpetrators.
Tuesday’s incident was instigated by a Facebook post by BJP leader from Tamil Nadu H. Raja who stated that the statue of Dravidian activist Periyar would meet a similar fate as Lenin’s statue.
The post that infuriated the opposition parties was, “Who is Lenin? What is his connection with India? What is the connection between Communism and India? Lenin’s statue was broken down in Tripura. Today, it is Lenin’s statue in Tripura. Tomorrow, it will be the caste zealot EV Ramasamy’s (Periyar) statue in Tamil Nadu,” wrote Raja.
However, the post was later deleted by Raja seeking an apology for the post made wrongly by one of his admins. The destruction of Periyar’s statue has aroused a lot of anger amongst the people of Tamil Nadu as he is the father of the Dravidian movement who founded DMK, AIADMK and MDMK.
Periyar’s philosophy revolved around opposition of Brahmin community who according to him dominated the other castes through their superstitions and practices. Periyar is a big anti-caste icon in India who took strict action against idol worship and fought for the rights of Dalits and non-Brahmin upper caste. These incidents are hard enough to digest for the people of Tamil Nadu who swear by the ideals of EV Ramaswamy Periyar.
Also one can imagine the angst of BJP and RSS in response to the vandalization of Shayma Prasad Mukherjee’s statue, a revered figure in the saffron circles who fought tirelessly to protect the Hindu principles of existence in India.
Perhaps this is the first time that the nation is gripped in a vicious clash of ideologies, even though none of the parties are taking responsibility for the attacks.
While some of the leaders have expressed their disgust at the statue wars others came out in clear defence of this social nihilism. Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy supported the vandalisation of Lenin’s statue calling him “a terrorist” and questioned his presence in India.
Meanwhile, Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy said in his tweet: “What one democratically elected government can do, another democratically elected government can undo. And vice versa.”
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also severely criticized the vandalization of Lenin’s statue calling it “barbaric” act. She stated,” Lenin is not our leader but we are tolerant of all views. We don’t support the dismantling of statues of our heroes be it Gandhiji, Netaji, Swami Vivekananda or Lenin.”
BJP Chief Amit Shah responded to the statue toppling incidents quite responsibly, backing the existence of all the political ideologies in harmony. He tweeted, “As a party, we in the BJP believe that a wide range of ideas and ideologies can coexist in India. This is exactly how the makers of our Constitution envisioned our great nation to be.
India’s diversity and the vibrant spirit of debate and discussion is what strengthens us.”
He also distanced himself from the act of vandalism and said that severe action will be taken against the perpetrators if they were associated with the BJP.
These incidents clearly indicate the lack of rational thinking among people who resort to such extreme tools of violence to shatter the reins of democracy.
Surprisingly these incidents were noted in states where the BJP is yet to assume power which forces us to think harder about the changed political map once the elections are over.