Rajinikanth refuses to apologise for controversial remark on periyar
Raising the photostat copy of a magazine page, Tamil actor Rajinikanth on Tuesday refused to apologise for his comments on a rally taken out by social reformer Periyar decades ago. Accused of “defaming” Periyar, Rajinikanth said his comments were based on news reports he had read.
On January 14, Rajinikanth, addressing the 50th anniversary-cum-readers’ connect event of Tamil magazine Thuglak, had claimed that Periyar had taken out a rally in 1971 at Salem in which “effigies of Ram and Sita were paraded without clothes and garlanded with footwear”. Following his remarks, the Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam (DVK) party filed six police complaints against the actor accusing him of defamation. Dalit party VCK also announced protests outside Rajinikanth’s house.
Talking to the media before his residence at Poes Garden on Tuesday morning, Rajinikanth showed clippings from magazines and newspapers to support his claim. “This is Outlook, Hindu group… This report from 1971 says that effigies were paraded without clothes… This is something I have read… I cannot apologise for this. Let me politely inform you all that I cannot apologise, sorry,” he said, adding that one Lakshmana, who took part in a dharna organised against the rally, also clarified the same.
Rajinikanth’s clarification came after DK party leaders including Kolathur Mani, who himself attended the 1971 rally, stated that effigies of Hindu gods were not paraded without clothes in the rally.
When asked about DK leaders refuting his claims, Rajinikanth said: “It was not (an incident) to be denied but to be forgotten…”
Rajinikanth made the reference to 1971 rally, in an effort to glorify the late Cho, who edited Thuglak magazine, to claim that Cho had protested against the rally and published articles in the magazine. Rajinikanth said the magazine was banned by the then M government, and this forced Cho to reprint them again triggering a huge demand in the black market.
Responding to Rajinikanth’s attempt to justify his statement, Mani said the actor should either apologise or produce copies of the Thuglak magazine from 1971 to validate his claims. “If he has that basic integrity, he should have brought the original copy of Thuglak from 1971. He is close to the Thuglak team and it won’t be difficult for him to get a copy. Instead, raising the photostat copy of another magazine to justify his factually wrong statement is to defame Periyar and the movement that he led in Tamil Nadu,” Mani said. He added that Rajinikanth may be reluctant to apologise for his wrong statement like many BJP leaders. “But if he thinks that he deserves a bit of credibility among people, he should produce that original copy of Thuglak,” Mani said.
A day after Rajinikanth’s speech that kicked up a controversy, a source close to Rajinikanth told The Indian Express that the actor originally did not expect a controversy for what he had said. “There was no need for him to ridicule one (Periyar) to glorify another (Cho). Usually, he is careful in borrowing ideas for a public speech. There was pressure on him to make political statements at the function. But he refused to do that. He attended the function for his gratitude for Cho.”