Tension prevailed at the Madurai Airport on Saturday even before the body of soldier D. Lakshmanan could be brought for the wreath-laying ceremony. Some of the BJP cadre, who had gathered there, alleged that Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan had passed derogatory remarks against them.
The BJP worker alleged that Mr. Thiaga Rajan had passed the remarks, irked by the presence of a crowd of the party’s supporters. A verbal duel of sorts followed before personnel from army and police personnel intervened.
Following the wreath-laying ceremony, the BJP cadre hurled footwear at the official vehicle of Mr. Palanivel Thiaga Rajan. At least five BJP functionaries have been arrested following the incident, police said.
The incident occurred despite a large posse of police personnel having been deployed at the Madurai airport.
Separately, in a complaint lodged with the Madurai Police Commissioner, Madurai district BJP treasurer G. Rajkumar called for appropriate action against the Finance Minister.
‘BJP for peace’
Responding to a query on the incident, BJP State president K. Annamalai told reporters in Karaikudi that it was wrong to indulge in violence against the Finance Minister. The BJP, he said, has been propagating peace and development. The party has a rich tradition of respecting every citizen. Attacking or hurling footwear at the Minister's vehicle was condemnable. However, he said that according to the Madurai district BJP president P. Saravanan, it was the Minister’s provocative speech that had resulted in the incident.
As per protocol, after the government (i.e. the Minister, the Collector, MLA and other elected representatives) paid their respects to the martyr, political parties and leaders would be permitted to offer their homage to the departed soul.
The DMK president and Chief Minister M.K. Stalin should ask for an explanation from Mr. Thiaga Rajan on what happened in the airport and take action against him for his utterances, Mr. Annamalai demanded.
Minister for Commercial Taxes and Registration P. Moorthy, in a statement, condemned the act of the BJP functionaries, who hurled footwear at the vehicle of Mr. Thiaga Rajan and said the DMK would press for legal action. Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee, CPI (M) and Dravidar Kazhagam condemned the BJP for the incident.
In a statement, TNCC president K.S. Alagiri said: “Every action of the BJP is committed with political interests in mind. They must stop acting without tolerance or political decency. If these actions are going to continue, they will have to face the consequences,” he said.
CPI (M) State Secretary K. Balakrishnan said the BJP cadre sought to gain political mileage even with the death of a soldier. Dravidar Kazhagam president K. Veeramani called for vigilance to watch the actions of the BJP and RSS. Mr. Thiaga Rajan, who had attended a convocation ceremony in Madurai, told reporters that he was saddened over the demise of the soldier. “I was in touch with the officials in the Defence ministry over the last two days. I do not want to get involved in petty politics, when the country had lost a brave soldier.” he said.
(With inputs from L. Srikrishna in Karaikudi).