CHENNAI: Leaders of national parties are set to mark their attendance in Tamil Nadu on the day when the people of the State celebrate the harvest festival, Pongal, and Tamil New Year, on Thursday. As the State is slated to have its Assembly elections in a few months, these visits assume greater significance. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, BJP national president JP Nadda, and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi are coming down to the State on the day of Pongal.
While Bhagwat will be in Chennai on January 13 and 14, Nadda will be celebrating Pongal in Maduravoyal and will also attend the Thuglak annual function in Chennai on January 14. Rahul Gandhi will be spectating the Jallikattu event in Madurai. Denying any political motive behind the visit of Bhagwat ahead of the elections, RSS sources said,
“The tour programmes of our chief are decided months in advance. The RSS celebrates six functions in a year including Makar Sankranti (Pongal in Tamil Nadu). This year, Bhagwat will take part in community Pongal celebrations near Moolakadai in Chennai on Thursday and will address the people there. He is scheduled to leave the city on the same day.”
The RSS sources added that Bhagwat would be chairing a couple of meetings with the Sangh office-bearers in the State on Wednesday and would be catching up with young entrepreneurs and start-up owners. Besides, he is likely to interact with various fields during his stay in the city. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to witness the Jallikattu event at Avaniyapuram in Madurai on the day of Pongal. TNCC president KS Alagiri said, “His visit is to honour the farmers and the Tamil culture on the day of the harvest festival. He will not engage in any election campaign on that day.”
Gandhi is scheduled to arrive in Madurai by 11 am on January 14 and would be spending about four hours in the temple town. Alagiri also clarified that the Congress leader has no plans to visit the alliance party DMK’s president MK Stalin or any other leaders during his visit. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami is leaving to Salem on the morning of Pongal day, while Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam is already in Theni, his native district.
However, the Chief Minister is likely to visit New Delhi on January 18 and 19 to press the union government for funds for restoration works in cyclone-affected areas and the funds that are due to the State from Centre. Since he is expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior ministers during his two-day stay at the capital city, political developments are anticipated. The visit could seal the deal for the alliance between AIADMK and BJP parties.