Today marks the 142nd birth anniversary of E.V. Ramasamy, popularly known as Thanthai (Father) Periyar. Founder of the Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu, Periyar was a social-rights activist whose politics was strongly dominated by leftist and Marxian values.
Periyar is credited with bringing about a socio-political change in the Tamil society. Founder of the self-respect movement, he spoke out against caste oppression and injustice. Today both the main political parties in Tamil Nadu—the AIADMK and DMK appropriate him and claim to follow his Dravidian ideology. It would be no exaggeration to say that Periyar’s politics changed the political landscape in Tamil Nadu forever, as many, attribute the numerous social-welfare schemes carried out by both the DMK and AIADMK regimes to Periyar’s ideology.
Politicians across party lines have posted tributes to the radical, revolutionary leader on social media.
“I pay my homage to the one who fought for the rights of the oppressed, who taught us to practice self-respect—Thanthai Periyar on his 142nd birth anniversary,” tweeted Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami.
DMK MP Kanimozhi tweeted various quotes of the revolutionary leader both in Tamil and in English and tweeted, “He opposed the obstacles to self-respect and fought for equality in gender, class and caste. He raised his voice for women’s empowerment and liberation. Best wishes on his birth anniversary. #HBDPeriyar142.”
DMK chief, M.K. Stalin tweeted, “Periyar educated humanity on rational thought and self-respect. We will dedicate ourselves for social justice, equality, eradication of caste and fight for women’s rights. We will establish a society based on respect and intelligence. #HBDPeriyar142 #PeriyarForever.”
Actor turned politician Kamal Haasan tweeted, “He reformed the thought process of the Tamil community through rational thinking and social justice. He sowed the revolutionary seeds of change and upliftment. His imprint in Tamil is so deep that we can distinguish the society as Before Periyar and After Periyar.”
Meanwhile Congress MP Shashi Tharoor posted an caricature of Periyar with a text that read, “Celebrate the beard that stood for social justice.”
Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasami also tweeted images of him paying tributes to the late leader by garlanding E.V. Ramasamy’s statue.