Nirmala Sitharaman, B.L. Santhosh, senior BJP leaders condemn party functionary’s arrest in Tamil Nadu

S.G. Suryah, a T.N. State secretary of the BJP, was arrested by the Madurai police on the night of Friday, June 16, 2023, for allegedly spreading fake news on social media platforms

Updated - June 17, 2023 08:35 pm IST

Published - June 17, 2023 02:40 pm IST - CHENNAI

Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman

Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman | Photo Credit: PTI

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and other senior BJP leaders on Saturday condemned the Tamil Nadu government for the arrest of S.G. Suryah, one of the State secretaries of the BJP, who was booked for allegedly spreading fake news on social media.

Ms. Sitharaman asked if it was fair to arrest Mr. Suryah for raising questions on the death of conservancy workers instead of taking appropriate action against such deaths. Condemning the arrest that took place at midnight, she said it had exposed the two-facedness of the DMK and its ally, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), on an important social issue. She urged Chief Minister M.K. Stalin to immediately release Mr. Suryah.

Mr. Suryah was arrested for a statement issued on social media, criticising Madurai MP Su. Venkatesan of CPI (M) for his silence on the death of a conservancy worker in Pennadam town panchayat in Madurai. According to him, the worker was forced to enter an open sewer by a CPI (M) councillor in Pennadam. However, a CPI (M) functionary from Madurai filed a complaint, stating that Pennadam was in fact in Cuddalore district and no such death had taken place due to the reasons alleged by Mr. Suryah.

B.L. Santhosh, BJP’s national secretary (organisation), said that not a single word of Mr. Suryah questioning Mr. Venkatesan for the death caused by a “panchayat member” of his party, was objectionable. He said the Tamil Nadu government had turned intolerant as it was unable to digest the arrest of its Minister V. Senthilbalaji. He said the DMK should understand that the BJP would not take this lying down. “We have fought [the] Emergency in 1975 tooth and nail and we will fight now,” he said.

Tamil Nadu BJP president K. Annamalai criticised Mr. Stalin for using the State machinery to curtail free speech. He said “getting jittery” for the slightest criticism was “unbecoming of a democratically elected leader” and it was a sign of “an autocratic leader in the making”.

Coimbatore South MLA and BJP’s National Mahila Morcha president Vanathi Srinivasan said that the arrest was an indication that the DMK government was panicking since the arrest of Mr. Senthilbalaji. She alleged that the DMK’s “lecturing” on free speech, democracy was only for others. “When they [DMK] come to power, they become autocrats,” she said.

P. Sudhakar Reddy, BJP’s national co-incharge for Tamil Nadu, said that the arrest was “purely politically motivated” and it would not deter the cadres from fighting the State government’s “corrupt practices” and “anti-democratic” policies. C.T. Ravi, BJP’s national in-charge, and Tejasvi Surya, national president, BJP Yuva Morcha, also condemned the arrest.

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