The Vel Yatra is seen as an attempt by BJP to consolidate Hindu votes in the state.
An ambulance was stuck in a traffic jam in Chennai’s Poonamallee High Road for half an hour on Sunday after BJP chief L Murugan began his much-publicised Vel Yatra—a month-long political rally visiting prominent Lord Muruga temples in the state—by defying the ban imposed by the state government in view of the pandemic.
Stating that it is his “constitutional right”, Murugan began the yatra this morning. “State govt is allowing other parties to take out processions and hold agitation. It’s my constitutional right,” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
On Friday, Murugan was arrested along with several other senior party leaders and workers after he tried to begin his yatra. They were kept in an auditorium in Tiruttani, and were released later in the evening.
Invoking Lord Muruga and the identity of Hindu believers, the state BJP chief had said, “We Tamil Hindus respect other religions… but we cannot let it pass when they portray us in bad light. The DMK and its alliance partners talk against Hindu Gods and Tamil Gods. That is their (DMK’s) main job…The DMK and its partners have no business to step into my belief, the God I worship, my local deity…”
As the BJP leaders and workers proceeded to begin the yatra after Murugan’s speech, the police stepped in and detained them.
The month-long rally, visiting six abodes of Lord Muruga and modelled on the rath yatra, was scheduled to begin November 6 from Tiruttani temple, in north of Tamil Nadu, and culminate at Tiruchendur temple, in the southern part of the state. The Vel Yatra is seen as an attempt by BJP to consolidate Hindu votes in the state. The Tamil Nadu government had earlier this week denied permission for the yatra in view of the Covid-19 situation as well as possible communal tension—as feared in multiple complaints from opposition parties and two PILs filed in HC against the yatra.