AP minister for environment and forests Bojjala Gopalakrishna Reddy welcomes Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Renigunta airport. —DC
Chennai: While major political parties including the DMK, PMK besides several other pro-Tamil outfits have condemned the visit of Lankan President Rajapaksa to the Tirumala shrine on Wednesday branding him a Tamil slayer, the Lankan head of state has found support from unusual quarters as the Hindu Munnani leader Ramagopalan has flayed politicians here for opposing Rajapaksa’s visit and has claimed that they have a ‘hidden agenda’.
Clarifying his stand in a release, Ramagopalan stated that as Rajapaksa was on a pilgrimage to Tirumala, it was improper for political parties to associate it with his politics.“Earlier this year, when Christians from Lanka had gone to Velankanni to pray, DMK leader Karunanidhi had supported their visit and said that pilgrims should not be targeted. By the same yardstick, SL President’s visit also should not be opposed and he should be allowed to visit the temple and pray,” Ramagopalan said.
Condemning Rajapaksa’s visit, MDMK chief Vaiko had urged the Centre to stop his travel as he had butchered several thousand Tamils during the Lankan war. PMK chief Ramadoss too appealed to the NDA government to stall his travel plans.Amid tight security, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa arrived at Tirupati on Tuesday to offer prayers at the famous Tirumala temple. He arrived at Ranigunta airport, 20 km from here, by a special flight and proceeded by a helicopter to University Stadium and then onward to the hill shrine of Tirumala by road.
“A full-fledged security arrangement has been made. Rajapaksa is scheduled to fly back to Sri Lanka tomorrow after offering prayers to Lord Balaji,” Deputy superintendent of police Ravishankar Reddy said.He is slated to perform ‘Suprabhatam, the first temple service of the day, early tomorrow morning. The visit comes a day after Rajapaksa submitted his nomination papers for the next month’s presidential election in the island country.