In a major embarrassment to the opposition Dravida Munetra Kazhagam (DMK) in Tamil Nadu, a purported audio of party stalwart and legislator K K S S Ramachandran, where he is heard offering clarification to a senior functionary of Islamist outfit SDPI for chiding Muslim functionaries of DMK for their refusal to wear face masks, has gone viral in social media.
Ramachandran, who has been elected eight times to Tamil Nadu legislative assembly, began his political career as a follower of late chief minister M G Ramachandran and held crucial ministerial portfolio in his government. After a fallout with late chief minister J Jayalalitha, he switched allegiance to DMK. He was later a senior cabinet minister in the cabinet of late chief minister M Karunanidhi.
After noticing that party functionaries from Muslim community hailing from his neighbourhood were not wearing face masks, Ramachandran by his own admission scolded them for their conduct especially in the context of spread of novel coronavirus in the state. Over 80 per cent of Covid-19 cases in Tamil Nadu are linked to the attendees of Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi.
Ramachandran’s remarks are said to have raised the ire of Muslim community in Arrupukottai. He was accused of holding Muslims responsible for the spread of coronavirus in the state.
In the viral audio clip, an apologetic Ramachandran is heard clarifying to an SDPI functionary that his statement was not aimed at any particular community. In a damaging revelation, the former minister also mentions about his efforts to ensure that the town was not sealed despite prevalence of coronavirus cases in the vicinity.
In the audio, Ramachandran is heard claiming credit as a guardian of minorities in the area, he has ensured that health authorities and police do not visit the area for screening possible infected cases and quarantine them. He also is heard claiming that despite nation-wide lock-down he has ensured that Muslim vendors can continue to operate their business.
Ramachandran is also heard saying that he realises Muslims in the area are his captive vote-bank and he will never let them down.
The SDPI functionary is heard requesting Ramachandran to release an audio statement to assuage the hurt sentiments of Muslims in the area.
The Hindu quoted Ramachandran as saying, “I told them that they were risking not only their health, but also that of their family members by not wearing masks. It was not aimed at any particular community.”
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