The DMK-led government in Tamil Nadu has denied permission for K. Annamalai’s “En Maan En Makkal” yatra to proceed in Chennai, citing concerns over potential traffic congestion. The decision, communicated through the police machinery, comes amidst accusations of attempting to obstruct the success of the statewide yatra, reminiscent of previous instances where Hindu festivals and processions faced similar restrictions.
Annamalai, the Tamil Nadu BJP chief, commenced the “En Maan En Makkal” yatra in Rameswaram on July 29th last year, with Home Minister Amit Shah flagging off the event. Since its inception, the yatra has traversed 195 assembly constituencies, with the goal of covering all 234 constituencies in Tamil Nadu before the announcement of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Massive crowd throng the venue of the En Mann En Makkal inauguration ceremony at Rameshwaram
— En Mann En Makkal (@EnMannEnMakkal) July 28, 2023
In a significant political event, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to address a massive rally in Palladam, Tamil Nadu, on February 25. The rally, to be held in Tiruppur district, marks the conclusion of the state BJP chief K Annamalai’s ambitious “En Mann En Makkal” (My Land, My People) yatra, which aimed to cover all 234 Assembly constituencies in the state. The preparations for the rally are underway in full swing, with expectations that it will serve as a launching pad for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Annamalai’s yatra, which began in Rameswaram last year and covered 195 assembly constituencies, has been instrumental in promoting the Central Government’s schemes and highlighting Prime Minister Modi’s achievements over the past decade. The tour aimed to connect with people across Tamil Nadu, emphasising the choice for India’s growth in the upcoming elections.
Addressing reporters in Chennai on February 5th, Annamalai expressed confidence that the rally would see participation from approximately 10 lakh cadres and members of the public. He stressed that the upcoming elections in Tamil Nadu would be crucial for the nation’s progress, with people realising the significance of choosing leadership for India’s growth.
Annamalai further articulated his belief that the people of Tamil Nadu, regardless of their party allegiance, had come to recognise the importance of their vote in contributing to India’s development. He predicted substantial support for Prime Minister Modi, asserting that Tamil Nadu’s votes would significantly contribute to Modi’s securing a third term in office.
Despite instances of the DMK government attempting to disrupt Annamalai’s yatra through police restrictions, the journey has witnessed overwhelming support from people of all ages and backgrounds. Crowds, enduring adverse weather conditions, have enthusiastically participated in the yatra, expressing their admiration for Annamalai and the BJP.
The groundswell of support for the yatra has evidently caused concern among political rivals, with the DMK and its allies perceiving the growing influence of the BJP in what they once referred to as Periyar’s soil. The visible success of Annamalai’s yatra, with people eagerly waiting for hours to engage with him, indicates a shift in public sentiment and challenges the established political landscape in Tamil Nadu.
According to the sources, Stalin, perturbed by the popularity of Annamalai’s yatra, reportedly reached out to industrialist forums, including Codisa, Sivakasi fireworks, and MSME entrepreneur bodies. In meetings held in January at the Secretariat, Stalin is said to have conveyed a stern message, cautioning against supporting the BJP.
During separate interactions with representatives of these industrial bodies, Stalin reportedly voiced his concerns, stating, “I have input from intelligence agencies suggesting that you people are supporting BJP and actively campaigning for Annamalai. You should cease this support immediately. If you continue to side with Annamalai and do not support my government, you will face unavoidable problems. Take this as a warning and stop aligning with Annamalai.” The sources, fearing potential repercussions, chose to remain anonymous.
Stalin’s alleged attempt to dissuade industrialists from supporting the BJP and Annamalai’s yatra is considered by many as a reflection of the growing influence of the BJP in the state and a decline in the DMK’s political stronghold.
In another twist to the political landscape, actor Vijay, who recently dropped his full name, C Joseph Vijay, and adopted the moniker “Vijay,” is said to be exploring new political endeavors. Speculation suggests that this move may have originated from the DMK with the intent to divide youth votes between the BJP and AIADMK. Vijay’s visible display of Hindu symbols, including sporting kumkum, has sparked rumors of his potential backing from Christian communities who allegedly desire a leader from their faith to hold the Chief Minister’s office.
In continuation of reported efforts to obstruct BJP’s growth, the DMK government has reportedly denied permission for Annamalai’s yatra to reach Chennai on Sunday (11th). The denial comes ahead of a planned public meeting where BJP National President JP Nadda is scheduled to address the gathering. Citing potential traffic congestion, police sources stated, “No permission will be given for the event in Chennai due to traffic congestions. If permission is granted to the yatra, the entire city will be choked.”
In a bid to secure permission for the “En Mann En Makkal” yatra, a delegation led by TN BJP state vice president Karu Nagarajan met with Chennai Police Commissioner Sandeep Rai Rathore and Traffic Wing Additional Commissioner of Police R Sudhakar on February 8th. The delegation sought approval for the yatra at three different locations, namely Sholinganallure, Perungudi, and Nandanam. However, the police remained steadfast in their decision to deny permission, citing potential harm to the public.
Despite the denial, the police granted permission for the BJP to hold a public meeting at Vepery in Chennai. BJP State Spokesman, ANS Prasad, expressed disappointment in a release, stating that the police’s refusal was based on concerns of traffic congestion. Prasad claimed that permission had been granted for DMK and its allies’ meetings and rallies, highlighting what the BJP perceives as a biased approach.
Undeterred by the denial, Prasad asserted, “Annamalai, with public support, will break all hindrances and succeed in his pada yatra.” He pointed to successful events, such as the Salem DMK Youth Conference, VCK’s conference in Trichy, and the SDPI conference in Madurai, where public participation was allowed.
In Royapuram, Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin led a protest against NEET, where, as per BJP claims, anti-national elements participated. Prasad highlighted the yatra’s progress, noting its completion of 189 constituencies and the evident panic within the ruling DMK and the erstwhile rulers, AIADMK.
Karu Nagarajan took a swipe at the DMK for organizing a procession to Aringar Anna memorial, contrasting it with the BJP’s focus on public issues rather than memorials. He criticized the police’s decision to permit a protest against NEET, claiming that around 1,000 school students were transported in MTC buses.
Sources suggest that the BJP is contemplating legal action, planning to move the court to seek a direction for the DMK government to grant permission for Annamalai’s yatra and public meeting. Insiders assert that the DMK, by denying permission, has unwittingly fallen into a trap set by the BJP. They interpret this move as an inadvertent acknowledgment of the potential for a massive crowd that could disrupt traffic in Chennai, contradicting the DMK’s earlier stance that BJP would never gain a foothold in Tamil Nadu. This perceived acceptance is seen by the BJP as evidence of its growing influence and emergence as a force to be reckoned with in the state.