Rama Rajya Rath Yatra enters Tamil Nadu; Stalin Arrested for Protesting against the Yatra

The Rama Rajya Rath Yatra, organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), reached Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday despite protests by opposition parties. DMK acting president MK Stalin, who had urged the state government to not allow the yatra inside Tamil Nadu to ensure peace, staged a walkout in the state Assembly over the issue.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on Tuesday rejected the demand of the DMK and Congress for banning the Ram Rajya Rath Yatra in Tamil Nadu, saying that all religions had equal rights and it was the duty of the government to protect the democratic right.

“A government cannot be selective in its approach towards a particular religion and ban its activities,” he said while responding to Opposition leader M.K. Stalin’s demand for a ban during a calling-attention motion.
Pointing out that the yathra, organised by Ramdoss Mission Universal, had travelled through five States peacefully, he also accused Mr. Stalin of garnering political mileage by raising the issue.

The DMK members raised slogans and the House plunged into pandemonium for almost 20 minutes. Manithaneya Jananayaka Makkal Katchi member Thamimun Ansari sat on the well of the Assembly and expressed his opposition.

As his efforts to rein in the DMK members failed, Speaker P. Dhanapal ordered their expulsion from the House. He also expunged the speech made by Mr. Stalin, who later staged a road roko. He along with the DMK members were arrested.

When the Congress leader K.R. Ramasami sought to raise the issue, Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam said the Congress members should keep in mind that Congress-ruling Karnataka and Communist-ruling Kerala had also granted permission for the yatra.

The Yatra was flagged off by VHP general secretary Champat Rai amid chanting of ‘Jai Sri Ram’ and ‘Ram lala hum aayenge, mandir wahin bananyenge’ slogans.

The yatra is being carried on a special wooden carved Rath (chariot), depicting design and replica of the proposed Lord Ram temple in Ayodhya. It took four months from artisans in Maharashtra to carve the rath having 28 pillars with a cost of over Rs 25 lakhs.

Though the BJP and its leaders have deliberately kept themselves away from the Ram Rajya Rath Yatra, the RSS and its offshoots will actively participate in the yatra as well as 40 public meetings it will hold in six states to keep the Ram temple issues alive before 2019 Lok Sabha polls.