As parties trade charges over removal of graffiti the following days may see more action

Birthdays of political heavy weights seem to be a cause for trouble than celebration. On January 30, the DMK south zone organising secretary and Union Minister M. K. Alagiri is celebrating his birthday. His followers have already booked the Raja Muthiah Mandram for the occasion. Not to be out done, the AIADMK party functionaries leapt to greet their leader – Amma – by drawing her portraits on as many walls as possible in the city and its peripheries.

The AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa’s birthday falls on February 24. Joining the race, a splinter group in the DMK, which owes its allegiance to M.K. Stalin, has also blocked some walls to greet its leader on his birthday falling on March 1. The ‘war’ over wall space has led to some disturbance. The Corporation Commissioner instructed the party functionaries to voluntarily erase the graffiti, failing which workers deployed by the civic body, would do the job and legal action would follow.

Not in a mood to listen, the DMK and AIADMK cadre waited for the officials to act.

Last week, the Corporation staff removed the graffiti in all the 100 wards. For their part, the Madurai District Police booked 101 cases against the violators and the Madurai City Police registered around 25 cases.

Irked at the action, Mr. Alagiri charged the Corporation of being partial. "It is normal for all party men to write on walls on such occasions. Unable to digest the DMK’s popularity, some officials are carrying out the diktat of the rulers," he alleged. Even as the DMK functionaries accused the Corporation of removing only their paintings and ignoring the AIADMK’s writings, the ruling partymen went one step further by lodging complaints with the police against the DMK for allegedly defacing the portraits of Ms. Jayalalithaa. "On many walls in Jaihindpuram, Villapuram, Subramaniapuram, Mahaboobpalayam, Arasaradi and Railway Junction, the DMK men had poured some liquid on the pictures of our leader (Amma)," they charged.

Though the Corporation authorities maintained that they have removed all the graffiti, the police are of the view that this issue may take some ugly twists in the coming days. The DMK party functionaries said, "To greet our leader (Alagiri), M. Karunanidhi is coming…its going to be a grand affair. Wait and watch."