A day after a statue of communist leader Lenin was knocked down in Tripura and one of Dravidian leader Periyar was vandalised in Tamil Nadu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who has asked state governments to deal “sternly” with those involved in these acts.

“The Ministry of Home Affairs has asked the states that they must take all necessary measures to prevent such incidents,” a government statement released on Wednesday morning said. “Persons indulging in such acts must be sternly dealt with and booked under relevant provisions of law.”

Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah also said he has spoken to party units in Tripura and Tamil Nadu, PTI reported on Wednesday. Any party member linked to such incidents will face severe action, he is believed to have said.

However, neither the government statement nor Shah mention the controversial Facebook post by Tamil Nadu BJP leader H Raja in which he had said, “Today Lenin’s statue, tomorrow Tamil Nadu’s EV Ramaswami’s statue.” The post was deleted on Tuesday, and the BJP unit in Tamil Nadu even distanced itself from the remark.

There have been cases of violence in parts of Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Tripura after the Lenin and Periyar statues were vandalised. A petrol bomb was thrown at the BJP office in Coimbatore, and the Tamil Nadu BJP has expelled a party member who damaged the Periyar statue in Vellore district.

Raja backtracks

H Raja on Wednesday claimed the post on his verified Facebook page about Periyar statues in Tamil Nadu was published “without his permission”. His clarification came several hours after the post went up and attracted a lot of outrage. Several Tamil Nadu leaders criticised him for the post, including MK Stalin, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s working president.

“The administrator of my page published the statement without my permission that all Periyar statues in the state should be removed. So I have removed the post,” he claimed, adding that “ideas should be contested with ideas, not with violence”.

“It was not my intention to hurt anyone’s feelings or sentiments. And if it did, I regret,” he said.

Jignesh Mevani attacks Modi

Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani on Wednesday took a jibe at Modi over the destruction of statues. “Modiji, tell your boys to destroy the statue of Manu, not Lenin or Periyar,” Mevani said on Twitter. “Mind well, exploited Dalits will always cherish the legacy of Ambedkar, Lenin, Periyar and Phule.” He added that “some day, Dalits will destroy the statue of Manu at the Rajasthan High Court”.

Social activist Anna Hazare also expressed displeasure at the damage to statues across the country, PTI reported. “It is not good what is happening in the country. These statues have been built in recognition of their work,” he said.