Hours after BJP national general secretary H Raja’s verified Facebook account raised a threat to destroy Periyar statues in Tamil Nadu, like Lenin’s in Tripura, a statue was vandalised near Vellore by a local BJP leader and his friend. On Wednesday, DMK working president M K Stalin demanded Raja’s arrest under Goondas Act, while actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan said mere apologies from Raja is not enough — his act merits action by the BJP.
And while Raja expressed “heartfelt regret” on Wednesday, many BJP leaders in the state believe he must be a satisfied man.
Many in BJP feel Raja’s statements are made deliberately to provoke, trigger a controversy, to invite attention, even though they seem spontaneous. “He makes them purposefully — some of them serve their purpose, some go beyond his hands. But he is never pulled up by the party leadership — he is doing what he is supposed to do,” said a senior BJP leader, who claimed to disagree with Raja on most of his public statements.
Express Explained | A man, an ideology: The importance of EV Ramasamy Periyar
And controversial remarks he has made a plenty in the last one decade or so. In October 2014, he was booked for malicious speech against Periyar, Christian and Muslim communities. At a point when MDMK leader Vaiko started criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Raja issued nearly a death threat, saying Vaiko’s “safe return” home cannot be guaranteed.
In February 2016, the BJP leader said senior CPI leader D Raja should ask communists to shoot his daughter for taking part in the JNU protests. “To prove my love for this country, I would have done the same. If you want to live in this country, you have to sing Vande Mataram, or leave the country,” he said in Coimbatore.
So what makes him everyone’s favourite? With no godfather in BJP’s national leadership, a BJP leader and a friend of Raja pointed out, what helped him was his ability to speak in Hindi and his long, nearly four-decade tenure in the RSS. This, the BJP leader said, has got him friends in the Sangh Parivar across the country.
Born in an ordinary Brahmin family in Sivaganga, a chartered accountant by profession who began his political life as an RSS pracharak, his caste was both an advantage and disadvantage in his political career. Political observers say Raja’s further elevations in the party has been held back by his social background and caste in a state where politics is largely controlled by OBC communities.
So is he really a short-tempered person who is difficult to handle? Laughing off the “charge”, Raja told The Indian Express that he never sets out to court controversies. “It is the perception, perception of people that makes my statements controversial,” he said.
Owning a cow farm in his native Karaikudi, and an apartment in Chennai, Raja has not faced any major allegations of corruption. And that has certainly stayed as a plus in his political career.
Asked why he had gone beyond all limits in criticising Tamil poet Vairamuthu recently, Raja said Vairamuthu had been doing the same to all Tamil icons for some time.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines