Published: March 20, 2018 6:17 pm
The Tamil Nadu Assembly today saw tumultuous scenes as the main opposition party, the DMK, protested against the entry of Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s ‘Ram Rajya Rath Yatra’ to the state and its MLAs were evicted from the House en masse for disrupting its proceedings. However, Chief Minister K Palniswami accused the DMK of trying to gain political mileage over the issue.
DMK legislators raised slogans against the AIADMK government and were evicted from the Assembly en masse after they did not heed to repeated appeals of Speaker P Dhanapal to cooperate in running the House. Soon after Question Hour, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly M K Stalin opposed the entry of the yatra into the state. His speech on the issue was later expunged by the speaker.
In a reply, the chief minister said the yatra did not face any opposition in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala through which it had passed before entering Tamil Nadu, and it would proceed to Thiruvananthapuram on March 23.
Asserting that he did not see any problem in this respect, Palniswami said, “You and some other political party leaders are trying to gain political mileage out of it and that is quite visible. It is not correct to give a political colour to the issue.” He said the Ram Rajya Rath Yatra began from Ayodhya on February 13 and entered Shencottah in Tamil Nadu today from Punalur in Kerala.
It would reach Rameswaram tomorrow after covering various places, including Madurai and Rajapalayam, the chief minister said, adding on March 22, the yatra will move to Thiruvananthapuram and the next day would cover various districts, including Tuticorin, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari.
Referring to opposition to the yatra from quarters who had submitted petitions to the police urging that permission not be given for the yatra, he said, “All religions have equal rights. Nobody can ban it. This is a democratic country and no religion can be discriminated.”
Adequate protection has been given to the yatra and police made arrangements to maintain law and order. As a preventive measure, 121 people have been arrested in various districts, including Tirunelveli, Madurai and Kanyakumari, Palaniswami said.
After the chief minister’s reply, DMK members raised slogans even as Speaker Dhanapal urged them to facilitate smooth functioning of the House. To this, Stalin said his party was not satisfied with the chief minister’s reply. “If you are not satisfied with the reply, you can register your opposition and you have done that,” the Speaker said, adding that they should allow the House to function.
As the DMK MLAs did not budge, he moved on to the next item on the agenda and asked Health Minister C Vijayabaskar to introduce the Tamil Nadu Private Clinical Establishments (Regulation) Amendment Bill, which was done amid the din. As the DMK legislators continued to raise slogans, Dhanapal again urged them to be seated, but eventually ordered the watch and ward staff to evict the them from the House.
Congress MLAs who had all along stood in solidarity with their ally, the DMK, opposing the yatra, staged a walkout led by Congress Legislature Party Leader K R Ramasamy. AIADMK’s ally Manithaneya Jananayaga Katchi MLA M Thamimun Ansari also opposed the yatra. He got up from his front bench seat, walked towards the Speaker raising slogans and sat in front of his podium for a while after which he too walked out.