Senior Congress leader EVKS Elangovan’s remarks about the AIADMK and the BJP having an “illicit relationship” triggered protests by supporters of Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Wednesday.
Cadres of the ruling AIADMK party held protests against the Congress leader and burnt his effigy at various places across the state. The Congress tried to retaliate by holding its own protests and burning posters of Jayalalithaa.
Elangovan made the comment while addressing an anti-liquor rally organised by the Congress last week. AIADMK cadres said his remarks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Jayalalithaa were “derogatory” and “tasteless”.
But Elangovan defended his remarks, saying he never made any personal comments and had only said that BJP leaders at the national level praised Jayalalithaa while BJP leaders in the state had attacked her. He also refused to tender an apology as was being demanded by AIADMK cadres.
The AIADMK and the BJP have a “secret understanding”, he said, referring to the elections to the state assembly to be held in 2016.
AIADMK spokesperson CR Saraswathi said her party’s cadres were “angry, restless and agitated”.
She added: “We ignored the remarks earlier, as Elangovan is known to make such statements. But after two days, when his comments made in bad taste went viral on social media after TV showed them repeatedly, we thought we must protest."
“Elangovan is not fit to be a leader,” she said. “Anyone in public life should learn to speak carefully. His remarks made about our leader and the prime minister are in very bad taste and a leader in political life should not make such comments.”
BJP leader H Raja, who filed a complaint with police against Elangovan, demanded that the Congress leader be arrested.
The actions of AIADMK cadres have brought opposition parties closer. DMK leader M Karunanidhi and DMK treasurer MK Stalin have condemned the attack on the Congress office and alleged that the law and order situation in the state worsened during the AIADMK regime. Police were turning a blind eye to “hooliganism” by AIADMK cadres, they said.
Similar sentiments were expressed by MDMK leader Vaiko, who called on Elangovan at his residence to express solidarity with him.
The non-BJP opposition parties are exploring the possibility of forming a front to take on the AIADMK in the polls. Karunanidhi has already given hints to regional parties to come together in a formation led by the DMK for the 2016 polls.