TN govt shows Covid-19 protocol to BJP, denies permission for yatra

In a setback to the BJP’s Tamil Nadu unit, the state government informed the Madras high court on Thursday that it has denied permission for the party’s ‘Vetrivel Yatra’ citing the Covid-19 pandemic as reason.

The BJP had proposed to embark on the yatra from November 6 to December 6 across Tamil Nadu (starting from Thirutani and concluding in Thiruchendur) to celebrate Tamil deity Lord Murugan in its attempt to consolidate the Hindu vote bank.

The Madras HC disposed of two public interest litigations filed on the yatra with liberty to the BJP’s Tamil Nadu unit to challenge the government’s rejection. Advocate General Vijay Narayan citied a government order that prohibits religious, political and social gatherings until November 15.

K S Narendran, BJP’s general secretary who planned the route map for the yatra had earlier told HT that the yatra would be a “turning point for BJP in Tamil Nadu”.

Opposition parties had demanded that the yatra be banned because it could lead to religious tensions in the state. Ravikumar, an MP from the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), a DMK ally, tweeted that it was a victory for secularism following the order. The VCK had written to the Tamil Nadu police to deny permission for the yatra, as it could create communal unrest. They also questioned the timing of the yatra, which is slated to end on December 6 – the 28th anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.

Despite being an ally of the BJP, the All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government denied permission to the BJP for its yatra. The AIADMK had earlier criticised the BJP for using the ruling party’s founder MG Ramachandran’s photograph in its promotional campaign for the yatra.

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