Tamil Nadu

AIADMK govt wants Modi-Xi banners. BJP, Kamal Haasan oppose move

The top leadership of the Tamil Nadu government wants to leave no stone unturned to make the informal meet between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Mamallapuram between October 11-13, a success. The heritage site is about 50 km from Chennai. And how does it plan to do it? 

By erecting banners all over.

In an ironic twist, the Tamil Nadu government whose machinery is expected to ensure banners are not erected as they are seen to be a risk to pedestrians and motorists, like it happened in the case of Ragu in Coimbatore in November 2017 and Subasri last month in Chennai. Both died after illegally erected banners fell on them, throwing them under the wheel of passing heavy motor vehicles. In both cases, it was the AIADMK that was the villain of the piece. In Coimbatore, work was on to put up publicity material ahead of MGR’s 100th anniversary celebrations and in Chennai, the wedding banner of an AIADMK leader’s son, led to Subasri’s death.

Banner like this killed Subasri in Chennai on 12 September

The AIADMK government figleaf is that it is taking the legal route. It has approached the Madras High court, seeking permission to erect the banners at 14 locations as reportedly desired by the Ministry of External Affairs. The court has been extremely critical of the manner in which the administrative machinery has been lax in implementing the rule against illegal banners. So will it make an exception in this case?

Incidentally, the Tamil Nadu BJP that obviously understands that the public sentiment on the ground is against these banners is opposed to the move. Its spokesperson Narayanan Thirupathy tweeted : We should avoid erecting banners that affect common men. All parties should take a pledge and decide against banners in public places.”

All Thirupathy has to do is to pick up the phone and tell the same to Edappadi Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam who are being more BJP than the BJP itself.

Kamal Haasan has written directly to the PM, informing him of what the AIADMK government has done, within days of Subasri’s death. 

“If you act as a pioneer in taking the first step to put an end to this haphazard banner culture, it will reflect your concern towards the sentiments of Thamizhans and that in itself will garner you the greatest publicity possible. Jai Hind”, he tweeted.

Just last week, the Tamil Nadu police finally arrested the AIADMK leader Jayagopal whose banner led to Subasri’s death. After the tragedy, the Chennai civic corporation removed close to 3500 banners that had been erected around the city. The AIADMK government’s plea is like turning the clock back.

The problem perhaps would not be the 14 banners. It would automatically lead to a mushrooming of banners with just about every leader in every street wanting his place under the sun by putting up banners. Would the Madras High court allow it?

Almost all political parties and even big Tamil stars like Vijay, Suriya and Dhanush have forbidden their fans from erecting banners and cutouts. 

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