PM slams hooligans, promises strict action

New Delhi: After registering an “ideological victory” in Tripura, which was under Communist rule for 25 years, the BJP had to assert that it believed “a wide range of ideas and ideologies can coexist in India” after incidents of statue vandalism, which began in Tripura, came too close to home. In a strongly worded statement , Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned incidents of vandalism of statues and warned of stern action against those found guilty. The PM also spoke to Union home minister Rajnath Singh over the issue and expressed his strong disapproval of such incidents.
The home ministry reached out to state governments saying they “must take all necessary measures” to prevent such incidents and that district magistrates and superintendents of police will be held personally responsible for such incidents. On Monday, two days after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept the Tripura elections with two-thirds majority, ending the 25-year-old rule of the Left in the state, the first incident of vandalism was reported. In Belonia, South Tripura, a statue of Vladimir Lenin was destroyed by some people chanting “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”. The next day, a statue of E.V. Ramasamy ‘Periyar’, social reformer and founder of Dravidian movement, was vandalised in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore district.
And, a bust of Parivar ideologue Syama Prasad Mookherjee was desecrated in West Bengal, and in Meerut, UP, miscreants vandalised B.R. Ambedkar’s statue which led to protests and deployment of police force. The protests ended only after the district officials assured that the statue would be replaced at the earliest. As Opposition parties lashed out at the ruling BJP saying vandalising statues is a “reflection of a new kind of politics” and that “hatred and division” is the “face of the BJP,” BJP president Amit Shah termed the desecration of Communist icon Lenin’s statue in Tripura and Dravidian icon Periyar’s in Tamil Nadu as “extremely unfortunate”.
Condemning the incidents, Mr Shah distanced the saffron party from the vandalism, but also said that no action will be taken against BJP national secretary H. Raja, whose social media post was blamed for the desecration of Periyar’s statue in Vellore.
In a series of tweets, Mr Shah asserted that any person associated with the BJP found to be involved with destroying any statue will face severe action from the party.
“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… The BJP will always remain committed to ideals of openness and constructive politics through which we can positively impact people’s lives as well as build a New India,” Mr Shah tweeted.
On his part, Mr Raja deleted the controversial post and issued a clarification saying it was published “without his permission”, and the Tamil Nadu unit of the BJP expelled a party worker who was arrested on Tuesday for damaging Periyar’s bust. But it wasn’t enough to pacify Dravidians.
In what was seen as a retaliatory action, a petrol bomb was thrown at a BJP office in Coimbatore. After realising the repercussion of his post, Mr Raja asserted, “We should contest ideas with ideas, not with violence. It was not my intention to hurt anyone’s feelings or sentiments. And if it did, I regret.”

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