‘Praise her, not criticise’: Minister defends Chennai mayor after footboard row – Hindustan Times

Chennai News

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu minister Sekar Babu has responded to a sharp criticism by opposition parties of Chennai mayor R Priya and municipal commissioner Gangandeep Singh Bedi for hopping onto a multi-utility vehicle’s footboard during chief minister MK Stalin’s inspection of the city, saying their action should be praised, not criticised.

“This should not be viewed as something planned or demeaning. They just acted fast, in the moment, so they reach the CM at the next spot on time. A woman mayor whose acts are as brave as the men she is with should be praised and not criticised,” said Babu, the minister for hindu religious and charitable endowments.

Priya, who took over as the city’s first Dalit mayor in March this year – at 28, she was also the city’s youngest mayor – has not responded to the barrage of criticism from opposition leaders from the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

JJ Ebenezer, a lawmaker of the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) who was accompanying the mayor and the municipal commissioner, said they were walking and hopped onto the footboard of the vehicle which is usually used by the security detail to stand when the vehicles are at a slow speed.

AIADMK spokesperson D Jayakumar on Monday said the mayor travelling on the footboard reflected how she was treated. “I’m pained to see that in a soil where Amma (J Jayalalithaa) ruled like an iron lady, this is how the Mayor is being treated,” he said.

Former AIADMK minister Sellur Raju told reporters in Madurai that the mayor, Chennai’s first citizen and a top official hanging on to a vehicle in the CM’s convoy was a “shameful sight”.

On Sunday, Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai cited the photographs of the mayor standing on the footboard on Twitter, saying it was proof that the DMK’s narratives of self respect and social justice are fake and evident in the visuals.

DMK’s Sekar Babu rubbished the criticism. “In the past, there were governments who restricted Mayors from even being seen in public. A corporation official’s hand was broken. We are not such a government,” he said without elaborating on the two incidents.”



    Divya Chandrababu is an award-winning political and human rights journalist based in Chennai, India. Divya is presently Assistant Editor of the Hindustan Times where she covers Tamil Nadu & Puducherry. She started her career as a broadcast journalist at NDTV-Hindu where she anchored and wrote prime time news bulletins. Later, she covered politics, development, mental health, child and disability rights for The Times of India. Divya has been a journalism fellow for several programs including the Asia Journalism Fellowship at Singapore and the KAS Media Asia- The Caravan for narrative journalism. Divya has a master’s in politics and international studies from the University of Warwick, UK. As an independent journalist Divya has written for Indian and foreign publications on domestic and international affairs.

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