Tamil film actor Rajinikanth, who has announced his intention to enter Tamil Nadu politics, on Tuesday (21 January) set the imprint for his political foray by refusing to apologise for a statement he made last week on a rally held at Salem in 1971 by Dravida Kazhagam (DK) founder “Periyar” E V Ramasamy.
Speaking at the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Tughlak Tamil magazine, Rajinikanth recalled that “Periyar” took out the rally in 1971 with Lord Rama and Sita without clothes and wearing garlands of footwear.
The reason why the film star recalled the event was because Tughlak, founded by the late Cho Ramaswamy, was the only news organisation that carried a report of this.
But the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government, which was in power in Tamil Nadu then under the late M Karunanidhi, confiscated the magazine’s copy that had the photo of the rally.
He said its circulation picked up soon after the seizure of the copy.
During the event, Rajinikanth also made another remark that drew protests from the DMK and its leaders. Referring to Tughlak magazine, he said while a DMK member could be identified by the copy of the party daily Murasoli that he/she carries, an intellectual can be identified if he/she reads Tughlak.
Soon after the statement by Rajinikanth on the 1971 Salem rally of the DK founder, a section, claiming to be Periyar followers, demanded an apology from the actor. Quite a few cases were also filed by these activists against Rajinikanth in various parts of the State.
Earlier on Tuesday, DK general secretary K Veeramani told the media in Thoothukudi that Rajinikanth was misleading the people on “Periyar” and he would “pay the price for such comments”.
On social media, a report of Illustrated Weekly on the rally was reproduced.
The film star said even former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tamil Nadu state president K N Lakshmanan had supported his statement pointing out how he took part in a protest against the rally.
“There is a controversy that I have said something that has not happened. I have not said anything that has not happened. Some people want me to regret and apologise for the statement. Sorry, I humbly tell them that I am not going to regret or apologise (for making the statement),” the actor said.
Asked about some people refuting his version, he said it was their view and he held his own view.
“Some bitter incidents should not be discussed repeatedly. This is an incident that cannot be denied. But it should be forgotten,” he said.
The statement that the Tamil actor won’t regret or apologise received a huge thumbs up in social media. On Twitter, #mannippuketkamudiyadhu (won’t apologise) on to Rajinikanth's statement topped the trend in India.
Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar said Rajinikanth’s statement on “Periyar”, who was respected by all, was condemnable.
DMK president M K Stalin said Rajinikanth was not a politician and he should think beforehand before speaking on “Periyar”.
Rajinikanth’s statement has left the Dravidian supporters fuming, especially after he has stood firm on his statement. They have tried to counter his statement by alleging that he was batting for the BJP.
It has also brought in a widespread support for him, particularly in taking on the DMK and other Opposition parties.
Rajinikanth’s decision to stand firm on his statement has set the stage for his political debut, as and when it happens. His party is set to be launched soon as elections to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly are scheduled for May 2021.