Why Gandhi and Periyar fell out
the Congress, the Vaikom Satyagraha was a model success, a breaching of the barriers of orthodoxy. To Periyar, it was an exercise in high-grade deception:
Gandhi had sold the lower castes out. Over the next two years he gradually detached himself from the Congress and Gandhi, whom he never forgave. With his family money, he began the SelfRespect Movement. His arena was the Dravidianlanguage-speaking South – Tamil Nadu as well as Andhra, Karnataka and Kerala – and his agenda sometimes the very opposite of Gandhi’s.
Where Gandhi and his followers wore white, Periyar instructed his supporters to dress in black. Where Gandhi massaged the religious beliefs of his audiences, Periyar called his listeners fools, insulted their beliefs and caste practices, and threatened to thwack their gods and idols with his slippers. And where Gandhi wanted to build a national movement, revelled in the Dravidian South