Political tensions in Tamil Nadu over the Rama Rajya Rath Yatra reflected in full intensity at the state Assembly on Tuesday. A chagrined opposition led by the DMK was evicted from the Assembly after they created a ruckus over the AIADMK government refusal to stop the participants of the yatra from entering Tamil Nadu.
The DMK further alleged that the AIADMK's actions proved that it danced to the tune of the BJP.
The Rama Rajya Yatra commenced in Ayodhya on March 13 and is led by the Sree Ramaa Dasa Mission Universal Society. The yatra has been facing severe opposition from Dravidian groups in the state which have declared it an extension of saffron terror in the state. The yatra arrived in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday morning, crossing the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border at Kottaivasal.
DMK working President MK Stalin had moved an attention notice soon after zero hour to question the government on the permission given for the yatra. His comments on the matter were expunged from Assembly. Replying to the notice, Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami has said that the yatra has passed through five states peacefully and that the issue must not be politicised.
"In order to maintain law and order and prevent any unfortunate incidents - Tirunelveli, Kancheepuram, Madurai and Kanyakumari districts - 121 people under preventive detention.The rath yatra has passed through five states. It is not right to give it political colours. As far as Tamil Nadu is concerned, all religions have equal rights. Nobody can stop that. It is a democracy. We can't differentiate between religions. It is the government's duty in a democracy to protect its people. We are fulfilling that duty. It has crossed several states - Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala..to come to Tamil Nadu. There seems to be no problem in this. But some leaders looking for political mileage in this," said the CM .
When the DMK continued to disrupt proceeding, they were evicted from the Assembly.
Speaker P Dhanapal condemned the DMK MLAs for protesting despite a detailed explanation from the Chief Minister. "It is your choice whether to accept the response or not. But is not right to disrupt proceedings," said the speaker.
Following this, Stalin flanked by other DMK MLAs staged a road roko outside the Secretariat and raised slogans condemning the AIADMK's decision to allow the yatra to pass through Tamil Nadu.
"You cannot allow religious fanaticism in the soil where Periyar and Anna were born," said Stalin, as police herded the MLAs into the nearest vehicle. "Is it AIADMK or a BJP government that is in power in the name of Anna? Don't spoil Anna's name. The Chief Minister must resign," he announced into a mic.
Stalin and other MLAs were later detained by the police. He told the media, "This just shows that the current government is doing whatever the BJP says. They dance to the Centre's tune. Even when a Periyar statue is vandalised they will not take any action."
Congress MLAs, who also participated in the road roko, were detained by the police as well.
Meanwhile, Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code was imposed in the Tirunelveli district due to Rama Rajya Yatra.
The order by the District Magistrate and District Collector of Tirunelveli reads, “..the Superintendent of Police, Tirunelveli has also reported that to maintain public peace and tranquility, it is necessary to promulgate orders under section 144 Cr.Pc., for the entire Tirunelveli District, and that even a minor incident in the Rathayathra route will snowball into a major communal clash with serious impact on the law and order situation in the district. It is reliably learnt that some miscreants are planning to utilise the opportunity to instigate violence and spread communal tension; which will not be limited to this district only. A serious and grave possibility of public order disturbance, communal clash, danger to public peace and tranquillity exists.”
The prohibitory orders came into force on Monday evening at 6 pm and are enforced until 6 am on March 23.
Around 40 protesters including VCK Chief Thol Thirumavalavan have been arrested so far in Tirunelveli as they attempted to stage a protest against the yatra.
Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan, who is Makkal Needhi Maiam chief, tweeted to say, “Voices for social harmony being throttled with Sec 144 and arrests. Procession with divisive political agenda allowed with protection. The TN government dancing to someone else's tune, is neither reflecting people’s opinion nor being empathetic to students writing their board exams.”
Speaking to media persons outside his residence in Poes Garden, actor turned politician Rajinikanth said, "Tamil Nadu is a heaven of peace. The Rath Yatra should not affect the communal harmony of Tamil Nadu."
"BJP is not behind me. God is behind me. People are behind me," he added. Rajinikanth also condemned the desecration of a statue of Periyar ealier in the day in Pudhukottai.