A video of a Dalit politician criticising a Hindu text’s alleged portrayal of women has kicked up a major row in Tamil Nadu with the BJP demanding an apology from him for “denigrating women”.
Thol Thirumavalavan, the chief of DMK ally Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), was booked by the Chennai Police on Friday after a complaint by the BJP. He faces charges under IPC sections relating to outraging of religious feelings, vilification of religion, causing alarm to the public and others.
Kushboo Sundar, the actor-turned-politician who recently joined BJP from Congress, said Thirumavalavan had denigrated women from a particular faith with his statement and sought an apology.
The VCK chief has denied the accusation and said he was simply referring to the Manusmriti’s version.
During a webinar on ‘Periyar and Indian Politics’ in September, Thirumavalavan, a Lok Sabha MP, had allegedly said: “…As per Hindu dharma and Manu dharma, women were basically created by God as prostitutes.”
In Tamil Nadu, a state with a history of anti-caste movements, the Manusmriti has long been criticised by Dalit leaders.
The VCK defended its chief, declaring state-wide protests seeking a ban on the text.
Thirumavalavan said his words had been distorted to portray him as someone against the interests of women. He said his party was fighting for women empowerment and that the misinformation campaign was to create a rift within the DMK-led alliance ahead of the Assembly elections in the state.
DMK and its allies, too, stepped in Saturday to support the Dalit leader. Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) chief Vaiko and CPI(M) politburo member G Ramakrishnan demanded the withdrawal of the “false case”.
DMK chief M K Stalin, meanwhile, said the police should have booked “religious fanatics” and “bigots” who misinterpreted the VCK chief’s statement to trigger tensions. He said the act of the AIADMK government against Thirumavalavan shows the prejudiced approach of the police.