CHENNAI: In a blunt message to its ally BJP, the ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu on Monday said it would not allow the former’s ‘Vel Yatra’ and permit attempts towards what it called ‘politics of vote bank’ based on religion.
Amid remarks by AIADMK ministers defending denial of permission for the yatra in view of COVID-19 and BJP leaders insisting on going ahead with it, the ruling party’s organ ‘Namadhu Puratchithalaivi Amma’ said the state was a cradle of Dravidian ideology and there was no room for bigotry.
The Tamil daily referred to BJP’s Mahila Morcha national president Vanathi Srinivasan’s comment that ‘scuttling’ the yatra would only lead to ‘reactions’ hinting at a kind of cascading effect.
In its first direct response to BJP in over a week, the AIADMK said a tranquil Tamil Nadu would not back processions or yatras that have an ‘ulterior’ motive of ‘dividing’ the people on caste or religious lines.
The Tamil Nadu people have time and again proven that the state was a cradle of Dravidian ideology and there was no room for bigotry as religions were only for nurturing harmony, the AIADMK mouthpiece said in a write-up.
Be it Hinduism, Christianity or Islam, all religions taught love, peace and equality and when this was the case, “the AIADMK, which is beyond caste and religion, will not allow attempts towards vote bank politics based on religion and those who desire to take out the Vel Yatra should realise this,” it said.
The BJP, however, dismissed the allegations as baseless and absolutely devoid of truth.
In Tamil Nadu, Hindu religious beliefs were being “denigrated continuously” over the years and the latest was the “Karuppar Kootam” episode, BJP Tamil Nadu state general secretary K T Raghavan told PTI.
The BJP had said the yatra, led by state unit chief L Murugan, was to expose the DMK, which it alleged, had lent support to Karuppar Kootam, a group of atheists that denigrated ‘Kanda Sashti Kavacham’ a centuries old Tamil spiritual hymn in praise of Lord Muruga, whose spear-like weapon is Vel.
The AIADMK said be it “Karuppar Kootam or those who hold the Saffron flag, they should conduct themselves realising that people in peaceful Tamil Nadu followed unity and integrity.”
Defending the yatra, Raghavan referred to DMK top leader M K Stalin’s reported criticism of Hindu rituals in weddings and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) founder Thol Thirumavalavan’s “denigrating” comments about Hindu temples.
“If they claim that it is their freedom of expression to denigrate Hindu beliefs, if we question them is it wrong ?, if we raise questions, is it fair and just to brand us as communal?” he asked.
The AIADMK organ comparing the Saffron flag, which denotes sacrifice with Karuppar Kootam and was highly condemnable, he said.
Incidentally, the sharp attack on BJP by the ruling party mouthpiece comes days ahead of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s proposed visit on November 21 to take part in official and party events in Tamil Nadu, where assembly elections are due early next year.
Officially, the government had banned the Vel or Vetrivel Yatra citing the coronavirus pandemic and parties like Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi had alleged that the BJP’s campaign would lead to violence.
Chief Minister K Palaniswami and Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar had stoutly defended the ban on yatra while Murugan and other leaders, including H Raja, had questioned the rationale behind not allowing it.
Though the government disallowed the yatra, the BJP leaders have attempted to take it out from multiple locations, including Tiruttani and Chennai, since November 6 and had courted arrested.
Originally, the BJP had planned to commence the yatra at Tiruttani in northern Tamil Nadu on November 6 and culminate it at Tiruchendur in the southern region of the state on December 6.
Union Minister for Chemicals, Sadananda Gowda and Minister of State, External Affairs, V Muraleedharan are scheduled to take part in the ‘yatras’ on November 22 and 23 at Coimbatore and Palani respectively.