Chennai, Sep 22: The ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in Tamil Nadu today exhorted party men to get ready to give a ''fitting reply'' and teach ''a lesson'' to Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Ram Vilas Vedanti and VHP activists, if he failed to withdraw his ''fatwa'' against Chief Minister M Karunanidhi.
In a strongly worded statement here, Electricity Minister and senior DMK leader Arcot N Veerasamy said ''If someone like Vedanti had the guts to issue a ''fatwa'' to chop off the DMK leader's head and tongue, we will create a situation that the VHP activists will not be able to come out on the streets of Tamil Nadu''.
He said the scores of DMK men, including the district secretaries and senior party functionaries remained silent as their hands were tied by Mr Karunanidhi, who had the responsibility of maintaining Law and Order in the state.
''But the BJP and VHP activists should not mistake our silence for cowardice'', he said, adding that if they continued to talk against our leader, taking advantage of the ''silence'', the DMK men unilaterally resorting to give them a ''fitting reply and lesson'' could not be avoided.
''This is the birthplace of rationalist leader Periyar E V Ramasamy and we are the brothers of Dravidian Stalwart Anna. If Mr Vedanti, who is a member of a ''barbaric group'', running a party in the name of Lord Rama, did not withdraw his ''fatwa'', the DMK men would stage black flag demonstrations in front of the BJP offices in the state after obtaining permission from the party leader within a week, Mr Veerasamy said.
He would himself lead the agitation, he said, adding if the ministership was an obstacle to lead the agitation, he would step down as minister. ''Self respect blood is running in our body. We will make the country realise that Tamil Nadu would not remain passive if people like Mr Vedanti talked ill of our leader'', Mr Veerasamy warned.
Mr Vedanti, the VHP Kendriya Margdarshak mandal leader and two-time BJP Lok Sabha Member had yesterday issued the ''fatwa'' Ayodhya saying, whoever chops off the head and tongue of the DMK President would be gifted with gold by the saints of Ayodhya. He had accused the DMK leader with playing with the sentiments of the Hindus and demanded punitive action against him for his remarks against Lord Rama and Ramayana.
Reacting to this, Mr Veerasamy said India was a secular country and if someone was allowed to run a party and speak at will, whipping communal sentiments, Tamil Nadu would retort.
''Rationalist leader Periyar is not alive but the DMK men, groomed by the late leader are here. We do not mind our lives. We are not prepared to live after someone had hit out at our leader'', he said.
''Let us all prepare ourselves to teach Mr Vedanti and his supporters a fitting reply. Let us start today. Should we not teach a lesson to a North Indian thug, who fixed a price of our leader's life'', Mr Veerasamy added.