Tamil Nadu C.M. stands firm against allowing Vinayaka Chaturthi processions, cites Centre’s guidelines

Published : August 20, 2020 14:04 IST

Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami. Photo: C. VENKATACHALAPATHY

Despite the pressure from Sangh Parivar outfits in Tamil Nadu for allowing the celebration of Vinaya Chaturthi across the State on August 22, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami has refused to backdown from his stand of no public celebration during the time of COVID-19. Attempts to install Vinayaka idols in several parts of the State were foiled by the police. In many cases, the idols were removed for safe-keeping at police stations.

On August 20, the State government put out a formal press release citing Union Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines banning religions functions for its move and appealed to the people to cooperate. “This year, because of the coronavirus infection, the Ministry of Home Affairs had issued a release on July 29, 2020, under provisions of the National Disaster Management Act, to ban all religious festivals across the country,” the release said.

BJP president L. Murugan led a delegation to the Chief Minister on August 17 to demand that the Vinayaka Chaturthi celebrations be allowed. Frontline was the only news outlet to report that the Chief Minister had declined to allow the celebrations, though Murugan, who addressed the press after the meeting, expressed the hope that the Chief Minister would allow the celebrations.

After the release was issued in the forenoon on August 20, the BJP and elements of the Sangh Parivar launched a frontal attack on the government. Murugan asked: “If the Tamil Nadu government can permit the opening of Tasmac shops [retail liquor outlets], why is the government not allowing the installation of Vinayaka idols?”

Asked for a response, Law Minister C.V. Shanmugham, told Frontline that the State government was only following the directions put out from time to time by the Central government. “They can always ask these questions of the Central government. We are only implementing the guidelines of the Central government,” he said.

The AIADMK-BJP fight has spilt on to social media, with each side pointing out acts of commission and omission of the other. One AIADMK spokesperson recalled how the BJP’s national secretary lost elections to head the scouts and guides organisation, while a BJP office bearer recalled how some leaders were hiding behind women’s sarees with their heads bowed down for over 30 years. This tit-for-tat has only got worse, and quite a lot of that is unprintable.

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