His name is Raja, and he is the ‘king’ of controversies.
In a state where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is almost non-existente and fights with notes to get more votes or at least save its deposit, Raja is the only one who reminds people of a party called BJP. He is a firebrand leader but often his stand is directly in contrast to that of his party’s.
And he doesn’t give two hoots for anyone’s reputation. He will target EVR Periyar and in the same breath take on top DMK leaders and their personal lives.
In a way, by his words and actions, he keeps the BJP lamp flickering in an otherwise gloomy scenario for the nation’s ruling party.
Today, he is the BJP national general secretary from Tamil Nadu. And he often merrily puts his foot into his mouth.
Recently when Lenin’s statue was toppled by some fringe elements after the Left loss in Tripura, Raja was quick to say that he fully endorsed the toppling of Lenin statue but also went one dangerous step further. He hinted that Periyar’s statues in Tamil Nadu could be next.
Just hours after Raja threatened to vandalise a statue of the father of Dravidian politics, two men razed Periyar’s statue outside a municipal corporation office in Vellore.
Vandalising the statue of Periyar created a huge political uproar not only in the state but at the national level.
Raja was born in a simple Sivaganga-based Brahman family. He became a chartered accountant by profession and kicked off his political-social life as an RSS pracharak. But Raja’s caste has come in the way of his rise in Tamil Nadu politics as it is dominated by OBC communities,
Raja owns a cow farm in Karaikudi, and is a strong ‘Cow Rakshak’. On a personal level, he has never faced any allegation of corruption, or any wrong doing. Raja has been associated with the RSS for around four decades. This explains the reason why he has risen in the party despite having no godfather in the BJP. He is also fluent in Hindi and this keeps him in the good books of the party bosses in Delhi.
Raja has been in the limelight several times for his statements and has been booked for making malicious speeches against Periyar, Christians and Muslims. He also issued what some called a death threat to MDMK leader Vaiko when the latter had started criticising PM Narendra Modi.
In the wake of JNU protests in February, 2016, the BJP leader had
said CPI’s D Raja should get his daughter shot at by communists as she participated in protests at the national university. “If you want to live in this country, you have to sing Vande Mataram, or leave the country,” he roared.
Raja is controversy’s favourite child. He didn’t spare the Tamil film industry either. Popular actor Vijay is a heartthrob of lakhs of youngsters in Tamil Nadu. One of his recent films, `Mersel’ had some blunt, critical remarks against GST which ruffled Raja’s feathers.
He dug out Vijay’s original full Christian name Vijay C Vijay Joseph to “explain” why Mersel contains dialogues against the GST. “Vijay is a practicing Christian. He should have said build hospitals before churches. Instead, in the film, he says build hospitals before temples. It is like provoking Hindus,” he tweeted, along with a copy of Vijay’s voter ID card.
Raja also called Kamal Haasan as a ‘spineless coward’, mocking his decision to enter politics, saying: “The person who should rule this state needs to be brave and fearless. Kamal Haasan is a spineless coward, who has in the past said that he will run away from the country.” (Raja was referring to Kamal’s comment in anguish when his film Vishwaroopam faced problems with a section of Muslims).
Kamal, however, took it as a joke and referred to him as a “bone specialist”.
Another one of his polarising statements was during an incident in Ambur district where seven police officers were beaten up during a riot, allegedly incited by a Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (MMK) MLA. Raja alleged that no action was taken because police were siding with the Muslim community.
Again, he targetted celebrated film lyricist Vairamuthu for calling Vaishnava saint Andal a “dasi”.
Then he crossed limits of decency when he called DMK Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi an “illegitimate child” of DMK president M Karunanidhi.
Raja came under flak, with former Union minister P Chidambaram demanding to know the BJP’s stand on it. “There is no such thing as ‘illegitimate child’. All children are perfectly legitimate. Will the BJP please explain where it stands?” Chidambaram tweeted in a counter to Raja. “Every child has a mother and a father,” he added further, in a tweet in Tamil.
“I don’t want to respond to what Raja has said. They either try to patronise you or intimidate you to force you out from public space. Those days are over and that is not going to happen. You cannot intimidate women anymore,” Kanimozhi said.
BJP state president Tamilisai Soundarajan felt “disturbed” with people commenting on the personal lives of women in public. Director
P Bharathiraja too reacted saying:
“I condemn Raja’s indecent remarks...how dare you (Raja) sling mud on
their relationship, you pervert.” He
said: “People like Raja who are
trying to incite riots in TN must be punished”.
Raja is making it difficult for the state BJP leadership by trying to pull in different directions. He often takes a different stand against the party line and his social media activism fetches the party more clicks than votes.
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,” says a senior BJP leader.
What makes him everyone’s favourite? With no godfather in BJP’s national leadership, what helps him is his ability to speak in Hindi and his long, nearly four-decade tenure in the RSS. He has friends in the Sangh Parivar across the country.
Does he really revel in controversies? “It is the perception, perception of people that makes my statements controversial,” he says.
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