Rama Rajya Rath Yatra enters Tamil Nadu; protests in Assembly, Stalin detained

Stalin and other DMK leaders staged a protest raising slogans against the Palaniswami government over Rama Rajya Rath Yatra entering Tamil Nadu.

Rama Rajya Rath Yatra enters Tamil Nadu; protests in Assembly, Stalin detained

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.

Following the walkout, Stalin and other DMK leaders staged a protest raising slogans against the Palaniswami government. He was later detained by the police.

On Monday, Stalin had released a statement saying the rath yatra, if allowed in Tamil Nadu, will disturb communal harmony and peace in the state. He had also said that allowing the yatra would be contempt of court as the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute case is pending before a Constitution Bench of Supreme Court. He added that the move by the VHP can also been seen as a pressure tactic.

Hitting out at Chief Minister Palaniswami, Stalin had said that the AIADMK leader had given the nod to the yatra to protect his government and chief ministership.

Apart from Stalin-led DMK, four independent MLAs in the Tamil Nadu Assembly had also staged a walkout demanding ban on the yatra entering the state. There were also reports of a group announcing a protest against the Ram Rajya Rath Yatra in Tirunelveli. Following their call for protest, section 144 was enforced in the area with immediate effect, and would remain imposed till March 23.

The 39-day Ram Rajya Rath Yatra was flagged off from Ayodhya in February and is slated to end in Rameswaram on March 25. While initially Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was expected to flag it off, but he skipped the event for poll campaign in Tripura.

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.

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