According to available details, EV Ramasamy Naikar Periyar came to Uttar Pradesh in 1944, 1959 and 1968. In 1944 and 1959, he came to Lucknow to address the Sammelan of Backward and Untouchables of Uttar Pradesh. No details of his 1944 program are available. Regarding his arrival in Lucknow in 1959, a picture of Dr. Chhedi Lal Sathi, the then Uttar Pradesh President of the Republican Party of India, is available which has been published in his book “How to make the common people of India exploitation-free and empowered”. Apart from this, no other details are available.
Periyar meeting in Lucknow and Kanpur
In 1968, Periyar came to Lucknow on 12-13 October. On this occasion, he addressed the Minority and Backward Classes Conference in Lucknow on 12th October and the Untouchable-Backward Conference in Kanpur on 13th October. This conference was held in Barhadari, Kaiserbagh in Lucknow. Regarding the Lucknow conference, Dr. Chedi Lal Sathi had told me that they wanted to take Periyar to the meeting venue in the form of a procession but some upper caste goons objected to this and threatened to attack him. On this Chedi Lal Sathi asked some of his people to accompany the procession with naked swords and sticks. In this way the procession reached the meeting place safely. Dr. Sathi told me that during that time Periyar had also addressed the students of Lucknow University. His associates in this event were Dr. Dauji Gupta, Dr. Gaya Prasad Prashant, Dr. Angne Lal and Shiv Dayal Singh Chaurasia etc. Periyar’s speech in Tamil was translated by Dr. Dauji Gupta.
While addressing the meeting in Lucknow, Periyar ji said-
“Our leaders want to keep the old religious and social system, as it was before. The same is still being forcibly imposed. Humanity is far from this. Establishing an egalitarian society is impossible.”
“In the name of God, Vedas, Dharma-shastra, soul, heaven, hell, sin, virtue, destiny, rebirth, Gods and Goddesses, upper caste Hindus have taken advantage. The one who invented God was a fool! He is a great fool! He who worships God is uncivilized! There is no God! There is no God!! There is no God!!!”
“Some people want to maintain the caste system to gain illegitimate advantage. But more people want to end the caste system because they are being insulted based on caste system only.”
“As long as Hindu religion exists, there will be a society of untouchable mentality and discrimination.”
“I had said the same things in 1944 and 1959 in the same ground of the State Backwards and Untouchables Conference.”
Periyar addressed the Untouchable-Backward Conference at the Parade Ground in Kanpur on 13 October. In this conference Periyar said:
“If we had not believed so much in God, Vedas, Shastras, Hindu religion and its Gods and Goddesses, we would not have faced so much social insult and religious exploitation.”
“Governments of old and new times encourage this Hindu religion. Our social structure has become a part of religious life.”
“A dog can eat food from a Brahmin’s plate. But man cannot even come near the plate, leave alone eat the food. I want to say in clear words that humans are undoubtedly more dignified than animals.”
“Nation does not belong to any particular community i.e. caste or varna.”
“Those who have advocated the existence of God have created self-serving stories to serve their own ends and to exploit others, which are blatant lies.”
Mayawati government and ban on Periyar fair and installation of statue of Periyar
In May 1995, Mayawati’s government of BSP was formed in Uttar Pradesh with the support of BJP. Just a few days after the formation of the government, Mayawati had announced to organize Periyar Fair in Lucknow and install the statue of Periyar at Parivartan Chowk. BJP strongly objected to this, as a result of which Mayawati could neither organize the Periyar Mela nor install the statue of Periyar. Not only this, Mayawati, while in government four times, never displayed Periyar’s photo in any fair, meeting, or exhibition. There is so much fear of BJP and maybe even today.
Confiscation of True Ramayana
Apart from participation in the above conferences, Periyar’s connection with Uttar Pradesh was due to the publication of the Hindi translation of his much-discussed book “Ramayana: A True Reading”, titled “Sachchi Ramayana”. Lalai Singh Yadav, known as Periyar of Uttar Pradesh, published its Hindi translation in October 1968, due to which there was an uproar in the entire state. On this, the then Congress government banned this book in 1969 and confiscated the book. Lalai Singh filed a case against this in Allahabad High Court in which he won. The High Court said in its decision that the government side could not present any evidence that there is anything in this book that would spread enmity between different communities. The Uttar Pradesh government had filed an appeal against this decision in the Supreme Court in 1970, but there too the government lost and the true Ramayana reached the general public.
Mayawati government’s ban on sale of true Ramayana
It was Mayawati’s BSP government in Uttar Pradesh in 2007 and at that time BSP had changed from Bahujan to Sarvajan and had accepted the transformation into “Haathi nahi Ganesh hai” (it is not elephant, it is Ganesh). At the same time, some upper caste people demanded a ban on the sale of the True Ramayana book, calling it anti-Hindu. The Mayawati government immediately acted on this complaint and banned the sale of Sachchi Ramayana, which is in place till today. Thus, this action of Mayawati was a repetition of the anti-Dalit action of the Congress government. Not only this, during this period Mayawati had also banned the film named “Teesri Azadi” made by BAMCEF, which is continuing till date. Such is Mayawati’s love for Periyar and Dalits!
It is clear from the above description that Periyar had a very close connection with Uttar Pradesh and his ideology has a lot of influence here too.
S R Darapuri is National President, All India People’s Front