The Makkal Needhi Maiam Tuesday sought the removal of a Tamil Nadu minister who said party chief Kamal Haasan's tongue should be cut off for commenting that independent India's "first extremist was a Hindu".
MNM general secretary A Arunachalam strongly condemned senior AIADMK leader and Milk and Dairy Development Minister K T Rajenthira Bhalaji's comments, saying it showed that the minister lacked "political ethics and personal dignity" and sought his ouster.
Bhalaji ridiculed the MNM's demand and said his remark was made as an "advice" for the actor, in a bid to inform him of the public anger his comments had led to.
He also promised to withdraw his remarks if Haasan expressed regret for his original statement.
The Congress' state unit hit out at the minister for his remarks, saying it amounted to violence.
Arunachalam said in a statement as the elected representative and a minister, Bhalaji had broken "the promise he made when he took oath as minister. "So he must be removed from his post immediately."
However, Bhalaji hit out at the demand and sought to know what violation of oath he had committed and if he was "speaking ill of a particular faith or promoting another."
Haasan was not the President, Governor or Chief Minister to seek his removal as a minister, he added.
On Monday, Bhalaji had said Haasan's tongue should be cut off for saying independent India's "first extremist was a Hindu".
"His tongue should be cut off... he has said (free India's first extremist) was a Hindu. Extremism has no religion, neither Hindu nor Muslim nor Christian," he said.
Bhalaji said Tuesday he did not intend to hurt anybody with his remarks, but that it was reflective of the public mood against the actor-politician.
The minister said in public meetings in villages, if someone speaks ill of a particular community, those concerned would respond by "throwing stones" or snap the power supply as "that is how they can show their anger."
"If he (Haasan) issues a statement that he had made the remarks inadvertently and that Hindus need not feel hurt due to it, I will also immediately withdraw my statement," he told reporters at Tuticorin.
TNCC president KS Alagiri slammed Bhalaji for saying Haasan's tongue should be cut off, saying it amounted to "violence". A court can voluntarily take it up as a case and probe him, he said.
"There is no second opinion that Nathuram Godse was a murderer, an extremist. When he killed Mahatma Gandhi he was a member of a Hindu outfit," Alagiri said in a statement.
"It is a fact that while Gandhi from the Hindu community was an ahimsavaadi (non-violent) and opposed violence, Godse from that community was violent, a murderer and an extremist," Alagiri said.
The congress leader said Haasan had not spoken against Hindus but only those who used the religion for violence, like Godse, and lauded the actor for starting the debate.
Haasan had said Sunday "free India's first extremist was a Hindu", referring to Nathuram Godse who killed Mahatma Gandhi.
His remarks had drawn condemnation from the BJP, which accused him of indulging in "divisive politics", but found support from the Congress and Dravidar Kazhagam.
Haasan had said he was one of those "proud Indians" who desires an India of equality and where the three colours in the Tricolour, an obvious reference to different faiths, "remained intact."
"I am not saying this because this is a Muslim-dominated area, but I am saying this before a statue of Gandhi. Free India's first extremist was a Hindu, his name is Nathuram Godse. There it (extremism, apparently) starts," he said in bypoll-bound Aravakurichi.
Bhalaji demanded to know if the MNM founder would make similar comments against other faiths, adding Haasan has "joined the likes of DMK chief M K Stalin and DK leader K Veeramani who have made it a habit to tease Hindus and Hindu gods."
He also took a jibe at Stalin's poll-time temple visits in 2016 and said, "we go everywhere-- to mosque, temple and church."
The minister said comments from popular actors like Haasan would become news.
People like him would question the actor if he makes such controversial statements, Bhalaji said.
"Why is he lighting a fire, spewing venom (that could create) a law and order problem? His remarks could incite terrorism, extremism... demeaning a particular faith is strongly condemnable," he added.
Seeking to know if Haasan was "hobnobbing with separatists," the minister urged the Election Commission to act against MNM. He also lashed out at the state congress chief Alagiri and Veeramani for supporting Haasan.
"Alagiri is unift to live in India. He should go to Italy... It is stupid to make such comments," he said.
Alagiri had alleged that Hindu outfits like RSS "believe in destroying those with opposing views" and equated the saffron organisation with ISIS.
He also backed Haasan's comment, adding he would concur with the actor "not just 100 per cent, but 1000 percent."
Veeramani was always known to have "hurt Hindu sentiments," Bhalaji claimed.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)