Tamil Nadu BJP suspends actor Gayathri Raghuram, takes action against Surya Siva

Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai on Tuesday announced the suspension of actor Gayathri Raghuram for six months for “bringing disrepute to the party” and barred OBC leader Surya Siva from party events pending an inquiry.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday, November 22, barred its OBC Morcha leader Suriya Siva from party events after an audio clip of him issuing threats to a woman functionary went viral on social media. In the leaked audio between him and Minority wing head Daisy Saran, Surya Siva is heard issuing threats and using abusive language against the latter. He is also heard intimidating Daisy with sexual violence and death threats. Suriya Siva – the son of DMK Rajya Sabha MP Tiruchi Siva – joined BJP earlier this year and was appointed as the general secretary of the OBC Morcha.

Suriya Siva is heard using several sexist slurs against Daisy and saying that “he will ensure within a month” that she would not be able to live in Chennai. Saying that he would use the backing of his caste group, he threatens, “You can complain to anyone in the party, even to [state BJP president] K Annamalai. It’ll be you who loses face.” Later in the same clip, he is heard saying, “Will you complain to JP Nadda [BJP’s national president] or to Amit Shah or to Modi? Complaint to anyone you like.”

Following the clip’s viral spread on social media, BJP state president K Annamalai released a statement saying that a one-person disciplinary panel had been constituted and tasked with submitting a report on the matter to the party high command within seven days. He advised Surya Siva not to attend party programmes.

In a separate statement issued on November 22, Annamalai announced the suspension of actor Gayathri Raghuram, the former president of BJP’s Art and Culture wing in Tamil Nadu. Gayathri was suspended on the grounds of “repeatedly violating party discipline and bringing disrepute to the party,” according to the statement.

Addressing a press conference following her suspension, Gayathri made several allegations against a functionary of the Tamil Nadu BJP. She said, “I have been suspended for speaking the truth, nothing else. There was an attack on me [on Twitter] and BJP functionary Selva Kumar liked the tweet. I have been trolled several times on his behalf. This is the third such incident. I hit back at him directly for it. If somebody singles me out for attacks, whoever it is, whether it is a common man, or someone in the VCK [Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi] or the DMK or even in the BJP, I will hit back. That is my right.” Selva Kumar is the vice president of TN BJP Industrial cell.

Gayathri also said it had caused her great mental stress to see that the suspension statement said she had brought dispute to the party. “I have worked for the party and the nation for eight years, without a personal or professional life,” she said.

Speaking about Selva Kumar, Gayathri said that he joined only a few months back but was given a higher post in the party. She also added that she was not given a chance to explain her version of what happened to the party. “Party chief Annamalai called me and said that I was suspended. Before I could explain what happened, I was suspended even without a show cause notice,” she said.

She also appealed to Chief Minister MK Stalin to arrest him. “If they are given warnings, they will keep repeating it. People like this never change,” she said and added that she would always express her solidarity to women irrespective of the party they belonged to.

Annamalai also issued another statement with instructions to state BJP leaders forbidding them from giving interviews to YouTube channels without taking prior permission from the state spokesperson. He also said that if any party cadre wanted to talk to media, they could inform BJP Media Cell chief P Ranganayakulu, and added that certain people in BJP who were giving interviews in YouTube channels were registering their individual opinions instead of the party’s stand. “Their opinions on political allies and alliance leaders are causing a misunderstanding among the people that these are also the opinions of the party,” he said.

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