CHENNAI: Actor Rajinikanth categorically stated that he will neither apologise nor express regret for his controversial speech about social reformer Periyar E. V. Ramasamy at Thuglak magazine’s 50th anniversary event in Chennai on January 14. In his speech, Rajinikanth had said that Periyar has held an anti-superstition rally in which naked pictures of Lord Ram and Sita were paraded in public and garlanded with slippers.

Periyarist organisations such as Dravidar Kazhagam, Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam and Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam had objected to the speech on the basis that it was factually incorrect. TPDK general secretary Kovai Ramakrishnan had said that the actor must apologise for his speech or face protests.

When media persons sought his reaction on Tuesday on protests and comments by Periyar’s supporters, the Super Star showed clippings of a 2017 report in an English magazine mentioning Periyar’s 1971 rally supposedly published to bolster his claim.

Rajanikanth has stated, “I showed you the magazine in which it was reported that Ramar and Sita were paraded naked and garlanded with slippers in Periyar’s rally in 1971 in Salem. I have not said something that did not happen. I have not imagined it. The one who protested there in Salem....Lakshmana...has confirmed it. So, I will not apologise or express regret,” said Rajinikanth, adding that he has only expressed what has been reported in magazines. He further said that Periyar's rally must be forgotten, not denied.

On January 14, Rajinikanth had highlighted Thuglak founder Cho Ramaswamy’s rise to fame as a journalist. In his speech at the event, he recalled an event from 1971 that took place in Salem. Rajini had said that Cho Ramaswamy’s Thuglak was the only magazine to cover an event by Periyar in which “Ram and Sita’s effigies were paraded without clothes, garlanded with footwear”.

“Cho strongly condemned the event by Periyar immediately and Thuglak was the only magazine to do so. This brought a bad name to the ruling DMK who did not want the magazine to be circulated. The issue was seized by the government but Cho reprinted it and the magazine was sold in black. What was sold for Rs 10, was then sold for Rs 50 and Rs 60. Dr Kalaignar had (inadvertently) promoted the magazine in that way and in the next issue Cho had thanked him as its publicity manager…” Rajini had said.

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