The ruling DMK on Sunday slammed the head of a Shaivite mutt in Tamil Nadu for his "hate" remarks and said he was trying to "frighten" the government and the party by harping on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
The BJP condemned the remarks against the pontiff and said it was an "intimidation."
Demanding that the Madurai Aadheenam immediately halt his "communal" speeches as it would stoke violence and affect law and order, the DMK mouthpiece, 'Murasoli', in its yesterday's edition, dubbed him as a "zero" in terms of his popularity and influence.
"Aadheenam" is a Tamil word that denotes both a Shaivite mutt and its head. The pontiff of a Shaivite mutt is also referred to as a Aadheenakarthar.
Sri la Sri Harihara Sri Gnanasambanda Desika Swami is the 293rd pontiff of Madurai Adheenam, which is located near the Meenakshi temple in Madurai.
The pontiff had recently criticised politically influential people who have not paid their dues for possessing the land owned by the mutt.
Also, he had reportedly hit out at the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department while taking part in a Vishwa Hindu Parishad organised function. At that event, the Madurai Aadheenam also had reportedly targeted actor Vijay for "insulting a Hindu deity".
Days ago, Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai, expressing full support to the pontiff, had recalled the meeting the pontiff had with PM Modi in Chennai.
The ruling party's daily said the law would take its own course if anybody sought to breach public peace or if they involved themselves in criminal offences.
The party's Tamil newspaper also said it would like to cite a remark of Tamil Nadu BJP leader H Raja.
Murasoli quoted Mr Raja as saying, "Stalin is more dangerous than Karunanidhi. In this Raja's post, several meanings are embedded. Harihara Desikar should realise it."
The daily recalled that the government had last month withdrawn its ban on 'Pattina Pravesam' event of Dharmapuram Aadheenam and that Aadheenams in the State welcomed the government's 'cordial decision' to cancel the ban.
The Pattina Pravesam event is a customary function that involves the pontiff being carried on a palanquin in and around the mutt premises by devotees.
Initially, it was banned only to avoid law and order issues as some outfits had opposed it on grounds that the event infringed human dignity, it said.
When this was the case, Madurai pontiff is involved in attempts that would bring disrepute to the reputed monastic institution that he led, the DMK said.
When there has been all-round appreciation for the efforts of Chief Minister M K Stalin and Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Minister P K Sekar Babu that are aimed at harmony, the Madurai pontiff is "blabbering" that would lead to "hate", it said.
"He says Ministers cannot move around...he is thinking of causing fear by showing Amit Shah and (PM) Modi," the daily claimed.
It may be recalled that the Madurai pontiff was the first to oppose the ban on the Pattina Pravesam event and had said that he would even risk his life to conduct it.
Meanwhile, DMK MP T R Baalu slammed Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi for his remarks in support of 'Sanathana Dharma' and 'against secularism'.
BJP spokesperson Narayanan Tirupathi, in his reaction, said the 'Murasoli' write-up is an open and cowardly 'intimidation' against a 'Sadhu' and condemned it.
The DMK is appalled as the pontiff had openly said that those belonging to the ruling party are trying to take over the properties owned by the Aadheenam, he said.
He listed hate speeches made in Tamil Nadu against the Hindu Gods by some fringe groups and said no action was taken by the government against them. The saffron party leader said his party would not be a mute spectator. "The DMK should understand that the law will take its own course," he said in a statement.
Recently, the pontiff had alleged that he was receiving threats and that he would call on PM Modi and Amit Shah. The pontiff met PM Modi at the airport when he was here recently to take part in a government event.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)