TN BJP ties strengthening 'Vel yatra' to Amit Shah's visit

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Chennai, Nov 19 (PTI) Strengthening BJP's 'Vel Yatra' that has grabbed attention despite being banned by the Tamil Nadu government would be among the agenda for discussions with senior leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah during his visit here on Saturday, party sources said.

Also, there is an expectation that he might meet top star Rajinikanth, whose decision on his political foray is awaited ahead of the assembly elections in the state due around April-May next year.

Shah, scheduled to visit the state on November 21 after a gap of over a year, is set to address the office-bearers and core committee of the state unit besides some official engagements.

On the agenda of the meet with functionaries, party sources said the ongoing 'Vetrivel' yatra, measures to strengthen it and the party organisation ahead of assembly polls besides the ties with ally AIADMK would form part of the discussions.

Asked on expectations that Shah might meet personalities like Rajinikanth, BJP state general secretary K T Raghavan told PTI 'I won't say that he will not meet Rajinikanth.' Political analyst 'Tarasu' Shyam said naturally Shah would discuss the political scenario in the state, the party's Vel yatra and winning prospects in the assembly elections but there will not be any finalisation with regard to alliance with AIADMK as speculated in some quarters.

The BJP has billed the Vel yatra campaign as a success and said the Salem leg on Thursday saw an upsurge among the people.

The state unit, led by its president L Murugan, has been attempting unsuccessfully to go on a state-wide 'Vel yatra' from November 6 though the government had banned it citing the coronavirus pandemic.

The party has, however, been holding holding 'Vel yatra' public meeting and courting arrest in multiple locations when police authorities deny them the permission to proceed with the yatra.

The Vetrivel or Vel yatra campaign by the Saffron party to 'expose Karuppar Kootam that denigrated' Kanda Sasti Kavacham in praise of Lord Muruga and the DMK 'which lent support' to the group, has grabbed attention ever since the government declared it cannot allow it.

For the BJP's state unit, the yatra campaign assumed even more significance after it met with opposition from parties like the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi which wanted it banned, claiming it could lead to violence.

Leader of fringe outfit, Naam Tamizhar Katchi's Seeman mocked at the BJP for trying to 'replicate' what it did with Lord Ayyappa in Kerala in Tamil Nadu by using Lord Muruga to appeal to the sentiments of the people.

The AIADMK even accused the BJP of attempting vote bank politics based on religion and said the government led by it would not allow the yatra.

The ruling party mouthpiece 'Namadhu Puratchithalaivi Amma' had said a tranquil Tamil Nadu would not back processions or yatras that have an 'ulterior' motive of 'dividing' the people on caste or religious lines.

The BJP has, however, dismissed the allegation and wondered if it does not have a right to question those who offended the sentiments of the people.

Now, during its top leader's visit the party hopes to brainstorm on the issue to strengthen its campaign.

Originally, the Saffron party had scheduled the yatra's commencement from Tiruttani in north Tamil Nadu on November 6 and its culmination at Tiruchendur in southern part of the state on December 6 covering all the key temples associated with Lord Muruga.

After the BJP raised its voice against the Karuppar Kootam, police made a few arrests of members of the group in July this year.

Rajinikanth, who had indicated his politics would be spiritual, has supported the police crackdown on Karupar Kootam and said 'God-baiting' should at least stop now.

The actor had recently disclosed that he had undergone a renal transplant in 2016 and that doctors advised him against entering politics in view of the pandemic. PTI VGN VS VS

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