‘Cinderella’s sandal saved’, quips PTR after BJP workers hurl footwear at his car in Madurai

The aftermath of the incident had a curious twist as the Madurai BJP chief apologised to PTR and was later expelled from the party.

ByShilpa Nair

Published Aug 15, 2022 | 8:18 AM Updated Aug 16, 2022 | 3:43 PM

BJP homage to martyr

Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan, popularly known as PTR, had a rather classy reaction to the incident where a sandal was hurled at his vehicle on Saturday, 13 August, by BJP workers in Madurai.

Referring to a woman BJP worker who is seen on video removing her sandal and hurling it at his car, PTR in a tweet said: “If the missing Cinderella of the Old Airport Terminal…wants her sandal back, my staff has saved it for you.”

He also attached a picture of the stone studded pink and beige colour sandal along with the tweet.

His post left the Twitterati in splits, with many of them lauding the minister for his “sassy” and “savage” comeback.

While leaving from Madurai airport after paying his respects to the mortal remains of rifleman D Lakshmanan who was martyred in a terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir, few BJP workers intercepted PTR’s SUV despite the police presence in the area.

The BJP workers raised slogans of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” while stopping his vehicle, and a woman was also caught on video throwing her sandal, which first hit the windshield of PTR’s car and landed on the bonnet which sported a national flag.

The incident happened after an alleged altercation between PTR and BJP cadres over the former questioning as to how the party workers were permitted inside the airport for a government event organised to pay homage to the martyr.

The party’s state Chief K Annamalai was among the others who paid tribute to the slain rifleman at the airport.

In another tweet, PTR also attached pictures of Annamalai paying his respects to the martyr surrounded by BJP workers and their cameras to call out the “publicity seeking scenes” of the party. He also compared it with pictures of other leaders and officials who laid the wreath on the mortal remains of Lakshmanan “adhering to the protocol”.

A senior police official in Madurai told South First that a total of nine BJP workers have been arrested so far in connection with the incident.

Stalin says the act exposes BJP’s ‘fake patriotism’

The sandal incident was strongly condemned by many, including senior DMK ministers and leaders of DMK’s alliance partners.

Responding to the controversy, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin said that by hurling the slipper on a national flag-mounted vehicle, the BJP has marred the 75th Independence Day celebrations, and charged that the incident exposed the party’s “fake patriotism”.

“At a place where an event is being held with government protocols, Tamil Nadu BJP chief and the party cadres gathered in large numbers for their cheap publicity. When officials and the minister questioned this, they ended up exposing their standards and fake patriotism,” Stalin said in a statement issued on Independence Day eve.

He praised PTR for handling the situation in a dignified manner.

The chief minister also warned of severe action against “forces which are trying to create trouble” in the state. “This is Tamil Nadu. Your political games will not bear results,” he said, referring to the BJP.

What happened shouldn’t have happened: Annamalai

Facing severe backlash over the incident, state BJP chief Annamalai condemned the act of his party workers hurling a shoe at PTR’s car.

Speaking to media persons on Sunday, Annamalai said that his party doesn’t endorse violence, and always desired peace.

“I do not accept what the party workers did… What happened yesterday should not have happened. It could have been handled better… party cadres should not get emotional for everything,” he said.

However, he also raised objection to “certain words” purportedly used by minister PTR against the BJP workers at the airport during an alleged altercation.

“If a minister tells cadres and leaders who came to the airport as citizens to pay their respects to the martyr that they don’t have the right to be there, then that minister should resign,” Annamalai charged.

Political twists after the incident

After the footwear was hurled at PTR’s car, BJP’s Madurai district president P Saravanan held a press conference where he lashed out at the Tamil Nadu finance minister.

Claiming that PTR insulted BJP cadres, Saravanan demanded that the minister express regret for allegedly questioning the “eligibility” of the party workers to be present at the wreath-laying ceremony of the martyred rifleman.

“This minister should express regret. Otherwise, BJP workers will stage a protest during every event attended by him hereafter. Wherever he goes, we will register our protest,” Saravanan said.

However, in a political twist, just hours after his press conference, Saravanan called on PTR at his residence in Madurai at midnight to apologise to him over the incident.

PTR P Saravanan Madurai

The meeting between Tamil Nadu Finance Minister PTR and BJP Madurai district chief P Saravanan. (Supplied)

He claimed that he was thoroughly upset with the way in which BJP cadres behaved near the airport, and was shocked and ashamed about the incident.

“After I went home, I got some clarity. I realised that the minister has studied abroad and he used the word “eligibility” (of BJP cadres to be present at the airport) in a different meaning. He was referring to the government protocol that should have been followed for the wreath-laying ceremony,” Saravanan explained while making his big U-turn.

Speaking to the media, he also said that he did not want to continue in the BJP because of the party’s “communal and hate politics”.

Soon after, Annamalai issued a statement expelling Saravanan from the membership of the BJP for anti-party activities.

Saravanan, it may be noted, quit the DMK and joined the BJP in 2021.