No permission for vetrivel yatra, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswamy categorically tells BJP State president

Published : November 14, 2020 12:08 IST

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami. Photo: S. SIVA SARAVANAN

Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami “politely but firmly” told Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) State president L. Murugan on November 13 that he would not be able to give permission for the “vetrivel yatra” that Murugan wanted to undertake across the State, in a bid to use Lord Murugan to fire up the party’s base. The BJP’s attempts to use Lord Vinayaka in the State have not succeeded so far. According to a highly placed source, the Chief Minister told the BJP leaders that the last thing that his government wanted thewas a spike in the number of Corona cases at a time the State neared the Legislative Assembly elections.

Murugan, who emerged from the meeting with the Chief Minister, claimed that he did not discuss the issue of the yatra. One source, who was present at the meeting, said that this was not true. “The yatra was the obvious focus,” the source said and added that despite the fact the BJP leaders were agitated, Palaniswami maintained his calm and never once lost his cool. The Chief Minister remained firm, despite pressure some powerful BJP leaders, the source said. Palaniswami pointed to the Covid-related rules in force to stress his line of argument. According to the source, he drew attention to the fact that it was the Central government that had laid down the guidelines and the State government was only implementing them.

Referring to the BJP leaders’ criticism that the Chief Minister himself was organising events where people gathered, he said that people gathered in places where he went to, and that the events were not organised by him or his party. He also spoke about DMK president M.K.Stalin’s visits to Madurai on three different occasions. During these occasions too, about 500-600 people had gathered at the airport. But, the argued that this was technically not the responsibility of the leader because no leader was holding a public meeting at the airport. However, in the case of the BJP’s yatra, the party was actively bringing people to a spot. He said that this was the reason for the police preventing them after the crowd reached a pre-announced spot. On the criticism of the police being harsh on the BJP cadre, the Chief Minister pointed out that in Tamil Nadu, political parties and the police generally shared a decent relationship. The unwritten rule was that there would be no manhandling by either side. But, Palanisamy said, this was breached when the BJP cadre hit a few police personnel in Tiruttani, including the district Superintendent of Police. That changed the equations between the police and the BJP cadre, he said.

Also, he said that there was no reason to arrest any leader or cadre at their homes before they committed any violation. The laws that applied to all political parties were applicable to the BJP, he argued. Despite this, BJP leaders have been alleging that the AIADMK government was “favouring” the DMK and allowing it to organize protests, while the same courtesy was being denied to the BJP.

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