COIMBATORE: BJP and Congress workers came to near blows while paying tributes to late K Kamaraj in Salem on his birth anniversary today before police intervened and restored order.
The incident occurred in the presence of union minister Pon Radhakrishnan when he arrived along with party workers to garland a statue of the Congress icon in Second Agraharam area of Salem, about 160 km from here, police said.
A quarrel broke out between them after Congress workers objected to BJP flags around the statue of their leader, a former chief minister of Tamil Nadu whose 115th birth anniversary was celebrated across the state today.
A section of the BJP members and the Congress workers were involved in a push and shove for some time, police said.
However, police, who were present, managed to pacify both the groups and brought the situation under control, they said.
Chief Minister K Palaniswami, his deputy O Panneerselvam along with senior party colleagues paid floral tributes to a portrait of Kamaraj in Virudhunagar, the hometown of the late leader in south Tamil Nadu.
Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar paid floral tributes to a statue of Kamaraj in Chennai.
The event at Sathyamurthy Bhavan, the headquarters of Tamil Nadu Congress Committee, was marked among others by cultural debates and a bike rally.
DMK working president M K Stalin, BJP Tamil Nadu unit President Tamilisai Soundararajan and AMMK Leader T T V Dhinakaran were among those who paid their tributes to Kamaraj, known for his simple lifestyle and introducing the mid-day meal scheme in schools during his rule (1954-63).
Talking to reporters in Salem, Radhakrishnan said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was following the footsteps of Kamaraj, who had provided a corruption-free and honest government in Tamil Nadu.
On the Centre's proposal to replace University Grants Commission with higher education commission, he said people's opinion will be taken into consideration while bringing any change in the existing system.
The senior BJP leader reiterated his remarks that certain forces were opposing development projects, including the Salem-Chennai Eight Lane project, in Tamil Nadu.
Usually, roads were extended utilising the lands owned by the government and agricultural lands were acquired only when it was very necessary, he said.
Keeping in mind the benefits of the project, farmers should cooperate with the government, Radhakrishnan said.