Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to the crowd during an election rally for the Kerala assembly polls at Konni in Pathanamthitta district on Friday. (PTI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to the crowd during an election rally for the Kerala assembly polls at Konni in Pathanamthitta district on Friday. (PTI)

PM Modi intensifies attack on rivals in Kerala, Tamil Nadu

Addressing a rally in Madurai, Modi spoke of a feud between DMK president MK Stalin and his elder brother MK Alagiri — who was the strongman of the district — and said “family issues had turned peace-loving Madurai into a mafia-den”.
By Divya Chandrababu, Ramesh Babu, Chennai/thiruvananthapuram
UPDATED ON APR 03, 2021 02:40 AM IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday addressed rallies in Kerala and Tamil Nadu — both states go to the polls on April 6 — targeting the ruling Left Front government in Kerala over Sabarimala protests and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)-Congress combine in Tamil Nadu over the ban on bull-taming sport Jallikattu.

Addressing a rally in Madurai, Modi spoke of a feud between DMK president MK Stalin and his elder brother MK Alagiri — who was the strongman of the district — and said “family issues had turned peace-loving Madurai into a mafia-den”.

The BJP and the ruling All India Anna Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam are allies in Tamil Nadu.

In Kanyakumari, the PM also took a swipe at the DMK over dynastic politics, saying the “crown prince” sidelined many senior leaders of that party, referring to the ascent of party chief MK Stalin’s son Udhayanidhi. “In TN, the situation is such that senior DMK leaders who worked shoulder-to-shoulder with Kalaignar are feeling suffocated due to the newly minted crown prince (Udhayanidhi) of the party,” he said.

He said the Congress was the most anti-democratic party, highlighting that the party invoked Article 356 several times. “Both DMK and AIADMK governments have been dismissed by Congress. Having Congress in any coalition is having a high-handed ally who doesn’t understand local sensibilities,” he said.

“DMK and Congress will not guarantee either safety or dignity for you,” Modi said, flanked by chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam.

“The law and order situation will suffer under them. DMK tried to make peace-loving Madurai a mafia den just because of family complications in DMK first family,” he added.

He further accused the Opposition DMK-Congress combine over the bull-taming sport Jallikattu, saying it was banned in 2011 when the Congress- led UPA was in power at the Centre.

“Congress and DMK keep showing themselves to be the only protectors of Tamil culture but fact suggests something different,” Modi said. “One UPA leader described Jallikattu as a barbaric practice. Really? Is that the word you use for something that is part of the Tamil culture for centuries,” Modi asked.

Jallikattu is a traditional sport in Tamil Nadu that is performed during the Pongal festival annually in January. While animal rights activists have sought a ban on the sport, it has remained a political issue in the state as it is linked to the state’s culture. Modi recalled the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee poll promise in 2016, calling for a ban on Jallikattu.

When there were wide-scale protests in 2016-17 across Tamil Nadu for the ban on Jallikattu to be revoked, I could sense their pain, Modi said. “Our government cleared an ordinance brought by the AIADMK government for Jallikattu to take place,” he added.

Later in the day, the PM addressed two rallies in Kerala, where he accused the ruling Left Democratic Front and the main Opposition United Democratic Front of giving “uninspiring leadership” to the state.

“Look at the capital and surrounding areas, it is shambled. Disproportionate assets, disrespect towards women, destroying public property - this is what local UDF and LDF MLAs are doing. When the leadership is such, people will feel unhappy and disconnected from politics,” he said at a rally in Thiruvananthapuram.

“People of Kerala are convinced of two things, first UDF and LDF are twins. They are twins of misgovernance, corruption, political violence, communalism, casteism, cronyism, nepotism, and more. Second, UDF lacks ability & willingness to defeat LDF.”

The two parties have alternated in power since 1982.

At Konni in Pathanamthitta district, where the famous Lord Ayyappa temple is located, Modi raised the Sabarimala issue, saying that Kerala has a minister for temples but he was one of the masterminds to shower lathis on devotees in Sabarimala. “I fail to understand, which government will shower lathis on innocent devotees? Which government will repeatedly attack its own citizens?” he asked.

The state witnessed violent protests after the LDF government decided to implement the 2018 Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all ages to offer prayers at the shrine. Rightwing outfits staged protests against the government’s decision to implement the verdict.

The PM also said that the BJP was fielding professional people like Metro Man E Shreedharan, who the BJP has fielded from the Palakkad constituency. and the people of Kerala were appreciating it. “The people of Kerala are seeing the development agenda of the BJP, NDA. They relate with our programmes and policies,” Modi said.

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