The gloves seem to be off in Tamil Nadu with AIADMK calling ally BJP’s Vetrivel Yatra (victorious spear march) divisive. “Tamil Nadu will not allow any procession or yatra that seeks to divide people in the name of caste or religion,” stated a column published Monday in the party’s mouthpiece, Namadhu Amma (Our Mother, as party cadre refer to late AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa).
Amid the on-going standoff between the alliance partners, Union home minister Amit Shah will be in Chennai this Saturday to strategise with BJP’s state unit for the 2021 assembly elections. A day ago, BJP’s state president L Murugan announced the national leader’s visit intended to boost the morale of the cadre but clarified that Shah will not participate in the yatra.
In its efforts for better visibility in the state, the BJP has begun a month-long roadshow to consolidate the Hindu vote bank by invoking Tamil deity Lord Murugan and exposing an alleged anti-Hindu and anti-Tamil propaganda. The yatra itself stemmed from a controversy over Youtube channel Karuppar Kootam reportedly ridiculing Kandha Sashti Kavasam, a devotional hymn dedicated to Lord Muruga. The BJP had accused opposition DMK leader MK Stalin of backing the arrested members of the Youtube channel.
Also read | TN govt shows rule book to BJP, cites Covid-19 to denies permission for yatra
AIADMK’s opinion piece, without naming anyone, says, “Both Karuppar Kootam and those holding saffron flags should understand that unity and harmony prevails in Tamil Nadu,” but it comes in the wake of BJP’s newly appointed Mahila Morcha president Vanathi Srinivasan’s comments that there would be repercussions for stalling the yatra.
The AIADMK-led government has consistently refused permission to the yatra, citing Covid-19 restrictions. And the BJP continues to defy its ally since embarking on the yatra on November 6. Party leaders have been courting arrests and hope to complete the yatra on December 6. Leaders from both the sides have so far maintained that there was no strain in the ties even while their representatives wrangled over the matter in the Madras high court. Public interest litigations were filed in court fearing the yatra would lead to communal tensions in the state. Opposition parties, including VCK and the CPI(M), had expressed similar fears.
But, AIADMK leaders had maintained that they feared a second wave of coronavirus and issues of law and order. BJP leaders had also said that it was the stance of the government and not that of their ally.
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