A Ram Rajya Rath Yatra has been allowed to enter Tamil Nadu by the ruling E Palaniswami’s (EPS) All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government, drawing the ire of the opposition parties.
The rath yatra, organised by a Thiruvananthapuram-based Hindu organisation Sree Ramadasa Mission Universal, will enter Tirunelveli and travel to Rameswaran and then to Kanyakumari.
However, the initiative of an individual has been dubbed as a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) event by the opposition, which has criticised the EPS government for giving permission for the rath yatra to traverse through the state. As a precaution, the Tiruneveli district administration has imposed a curfew or Section 144 Criminal Procedure Code that prevents the gathering of four or more people at a place from 6 pm to 6 am from 19 to 23 March.
The 39-day Ram Rajya Rath Yatra, flagged off from Ayodhya, is scheduled to conclude at Kanyakumari on 25 March. It was flagged off by VHP general secretary Champat Rai. The yatra, led by Swami Krishnananda Saraswathi, national president of the mission, will cross over to Tamil Nadu from Punalur and travel through Puliyarai, Shenkottai, Ilanji, Tenkasi, Kadayanallur, Puliyankudi, Vasudevanallur and Sivagiri before reaching Rameswaran via Rajapalayam. On 22 March, the yatra will proceed to Kanyakumari from Rameswaran.
The yatra is being conducted on a special wood-carved chariot, depicting design and replica of the proposed Lord Ram temple in Ayodhya. It took four months for artisans in Maharashtra to carve the rath, which has 28 pillars and costs more than Rs 25 lakh.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) led the criticism of the permission with its working president and opposition leader M K Stalin urging the state government to not allow the rath yatra enter the state. Stalin said the yatra would disturb communal harmony and peace in the state.
Stalin said the rath yatra was illegal since it was being held at a time when the Supreme Court of India is hearing the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute case.
The issue figured in Tamil Nadu Assembly on Tuesday (20 March) with the DMK legislators shouting slogan condemning the yatra, and Speaker P Dhanapal expelling them from the assembly. Stalin and other DMK legislators blocked the Kamarajar Salai that houses the secretariat and connects various important landmarks starting from Reserver Bank of India building to the Director General of Police headquarters.
Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam founder T T V Dinakaran questioned the need for giving permission to the yatra in Tamil Nadu where “people rajya” was ruling supreme. He hinted that the move to permit the yatra was to appease the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.
On Monday, four independent MLAs staged a walkout from the Assembly, demanding a ban on the yatra entering the state.
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