Sitharaman brushes aside black flag demo

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Madurai, May 3 (PTI): A day after facing a black flag demonstration by DMK workers over the Cauvery issue, Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said she was not bothered about such protests.

“It is the work of the opposition party.. they are doing it,” she told reporters here. Sitharaman was responding to a question on the black flag protest staged yesterday by the DMK workers in the neighbouring Ramanthapuram district, condemning the Centre for not constituting the Cauvery Management Board.

During the protests, stones and slippers were hurled at her car. Police had said that the stones hit the rear end of the vehicle, which did not suffer any  damage and the minister continued with her journey.

Earlier in the day, she visited the famous Meenakshi temple here and offered prayers. On restoration of the ‘mandapam’ at the temple, which was damaged in a fire accident in February last, she said the Centre would assist the Tamil Nadu government if approached.

“I wish the Vasantharayar mandapam is restored to its original glory and splendour. I have discussed the matter with the Tamil Nadu government…If the state government makes a representation, the Centre is willing to provide assistance in the restoration work.”

“Meenakshi temple is a unique and special pilgrim centre…it is the duty of the central and state governments to protect its magnificence.”

A massive fire broke out at the premises of the temple late on February 2 night. The fire gutted 40 shops selling puja articles and toys.

On development works undertaken in villages in the country under the ‘Gram Swaraj Abhiyan’ programme, the minister said, in Tamil Nadu, as many as 69 villages in Ramanathapuram and Virudhunagar districts were benefitted under the scheme.

The programme was being implemented in a total of 1,467 villages, she noted. Sitharaman also assured that all the rural development works under the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan programme would be completed by May 5.

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