The Tamil Nadu government on Thursday informed the Madras High Court that it will not allow the Bharatiya Janata Party to hold its “Vetri Vel Yatra” from November 6 to December 6, The News Minute reported. The ruling All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, an ally of the BJP, cited the coronavirus situation, saying there is a risk of a second wave of the pandemic and it is not conducive to allow large gatherings.
The saffron party had proposed to commence the month-long religious roadshow to celebrate Tamil deity Murugan in its attempt to consolidate the Hindu votes ahead of the Assembly polls in the state next year. It was supposed to start from Tiruttani and conclude in Thiruchendur to cover six abodes of the deity.
Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy dismissed two petitions filed before the Madras High Court. The first one sought permission to allow the yatra planned by Tamil Nadu BJP unit, and the other one argued that the roadshow might increase the spread of the coronavirus. Advocate General Vijay Narayan told the judges that the Centre has prohibited gatherings until November 15.
The counsel for BJP argued that no specific areas were restricted and that the Centre has only advised physical distancing. “We are not going to stay in any place during the yatra,” they said. “When the government has decided to open schools and colleges it is not right to ban the yatra.”
The judges said the state government has banned large gatherings of over 100 people till November 16. They, however, allowed the petitioners to appeal against the Tamil Nadu government’s decision.
KS Narendran, BJP’s general secretary who planned the route map for the yatra, had earlier said it would be a “turning point for BJP in Tamil Nadu”, the Hindustan Times reported. Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu have objected to the roadshow, saying it could lead to religious tensions in the state. They yatra was scheduled to end on December 6, the 28th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya.