A controversy sparked off in Tamil Nadu on Friday after clips of Lok Sabha MP and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi founder Thol Thirumavalavan’s remarks on women and Manu Dharma from an old video were circulated by social media users.

The posts alleged that Thirumavalavan’s comments were derogatory towards women and the Hindu religion. Following the row, Thirumavalavan issued a clarification on the matter in a video on his Twitter handle.

The social media posts carried clippings from an online event addressed by Thirumavalavan last month. Speaking at the event, the MP from Chidambaram said that according to Manu Dharma, all women are created as prostitutes by God and that Sanatan Dharma accords them a lower status than that of men.

As the clippings started circulating, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Khushbu Sundar hit out at Thirumavalavan and asked him to be careful of what he speaks since he was a political leader, reported PTI. Addressing reporters at the party headquarters in Chennai, Sundar said women cannot be objectified and accused Thirumavalavan of “using religion” against them.

Casteist, communal group spreading falsehood: Thirumavalavan

Responding to the charges, Thirumavalavan said he had made no derogatory remarks against women.

“Women are subjected to a lot of violence. Our elders have found that this is because of Manu Dharma, which is being followed for several generations. Ambedkar and Periyar had highlighted that Manusmriti degraded women. They had revealed how Manusmriti promotes patriarchal mindsets and demeans women. On this basis, during an event last month, I had said that Manusmriti demeans women.”

— Thol Thirumavalavan

He also claimed that “a casteist communal group” was trying to spread falsehood against him in an attempt to create rift within his party and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam ahead of the state elections slated next year.