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The Periyar Legatees

By Chandrabhan Prasad

23 September, 2004
The Pioneer

"We feared the Brahmin, and yielded extra space to Muslims. We are facing the consequences today. It's like that proverb: Fearing the dung, we have stepped on shit," Periyar said.

"If sahibs (meaning Muslims) get proportionate representation and the Scheduled Castes get representation in jobs and education and if the rest of the slots are monopolised by Brahmins, O Shudra, what will be your future", said Periyar.

"The reasons why Tamilians are suffering is because the Brahmins, Christians, Muslims and others claim themselves to be Tamil", he added.

On the eve of 125th birth anniversary of Periyar E V Ramasamy, a debate is raging in the Tamil country, with the new age Dalit intelligentsia taking up the task of exposing Periyar's social engineering. The above quotes are cited by Pondicherry-based Dalit intellectual Ravikumar, who refers to "Periyar E V R Sinthanaigal" - Vol. I, II, III, edited by Anaimuthu. Ravikumar's full text is available at

North Indian Dalits, in their celebration of Periyar, invoke his one liner: "Islam offers a good cure for humiliation and oppression". Periyar's 'conversion' thesis was at best a "blackmail", and lacked conviction. Periyar was quick to explain: "I am not defending Islam, nor am I propagating it. This is the truth, the only truth. I have no greater love, friendship, trust or cooperation with or for Muslims than I have for you."

Periyar's deep hatred toward minorities is well-known. In a statement titled "Minority Community", Periyar says: "If people who are a minority in terms of population, in terms of religion, or in terms of culture, control power and wield authority, it will be disastrous for that nation", page 46, Vol. I. He makes special reference to Brahmins and Muslims. The DMK, MDMK, and AIADMK, legatees of Periyar's movement, had no 'ideological hesitation' in aligning with the BJP, as Periyar's "minority" vision is in consonance with the BJP's. One could argue the Dravidian parties' alliance with BJP was propelled more by political than 'ideological'compulsions . If one was short of information, the 'political compulsion' theory could have worked. But, S Anand's interview with Veeramani clears the mist.

Veeramani is a well known name in Tamil Nadu, and remains an undisputed flag-bearer of Periyar. He is president of the Dravidar Kazhagam [DK], a non-political outfit founded by Periyar himself in 1944, from which DMK and AIADMK have sprung.

Veeramani tells Anand: "There lies the secret of Periyar's success. The impact of Periyar's was such that, it has crossed the boundaries of the State. It has reached UP. It has gone to Bihar, Delhi, even to Madhya Pradesh. You take Uma Bharati. She may be with BJP, but basically, she belongs to backward caste, and she is a woman". When Anand asks: "So does this mean the DK owns up Uma Bharati"?

Replies Veeramani: "No, no. I am only giving an example. When Kalyan Singh came out of the BJP, what was his identity? That he was a backward class man...a Lodha. Whether he believes in caste or not, he wants to exploit it. What is the spark for all this? The spark is from Tamil Nadu. It is from Periyar". The full text of Veeramani interview is available at

Thus what Veeramani suggests is that, the OBCs/Shudras replace Brahmans from power structure, irrespective of ideology or political platform. This is what the Periyar's entire social engineering was: "that the majority Shudra/OBCs must take over India's political power structure, wealth, institutions, etc", the Brahmans, the Dalit / Tribals / Minorities must be subject, or prajas in Hindi, which is a more of linguistic evil than a language.

On Periyar's 125th birth anniversary, Dalit intellectuals of Tamil Nadu are engaged in serious re-thinking on Periyar, who is fast emerging a social villain. Now, Dalits in Tamil Nadu are taking pride in distancing themselves from the Dravidian movement. Periyar while ridiculing Dalit leaders, once commented: "Asking the government for jobs, education, duties, huts, and housing; and seeking from the Mirasadars (big land lords) two extra measures of paddy will not help in any way". He even ridiculed Dr. Ambedkar as "a north Indian who succumbed to the Congress". According to Ravikumar: "Periyar was just anti-Brahman, and not anti-caste". Dalits must be aware that the most celebrated Periyar followers can take pride in celebrating Uma or Kalyan Singh, as politics is all about power, ideologies can be just pretensions.






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