It is a recurrent issue in Tamil Nadu. Either we fight for installing some one's statue, or for removing it or for re installing it. In 1994-95 the entire South Tamil Nadu was on a boil with repeated caste conflicts between Thevars, the dominant OBC community and Dalits. The representative statue of Thevars was their foremost community leader, Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar and for Dalits it was Ambedkar. Both these men had their statues vandalised on regular basis. It came to such a state that the statues had to be protected by cages.
After 10 years, now it seems to be the turn of Periyar EV Ramasamy, the leading rationalist of yesteryears and Lord Ganesha. The leading political parties in the state, DMK and ADMK, consider Periyar as their Guru though the ADMK is a diluted version. It is an irony of course that Periyar, who went on breaking statues in his life time, has his statues installed almost in all towns of Tamilnadu.
The starting point for this round was the installation of Periyar's statue within 100 mtrs of the Sri Rangam temple. Some one, most probably a devotee, vandalised the statue and the fire started. There have been incidents of Periyar's followers breaking statues in temples. Though it is technically a fight between atheists / rationalists and devotees, there is a caste undertone as in everything in Tamilnadu. All the statues that were broken were only from temples of the 'Aryan' Gods - Lord Ganesha, Ram and so on. No one has tried to even go near the temples of Local Gods - the various Amman temples and Ayyanar temples. That proves my pet theory, that in Tamilnadu, rationalism means anti brahminism.