The incident, which occurred and was captured on camera, went viral yesterday.
The woman, identified as Nellaiyammal of BJP, is seen asking the public at Tiruchendur Subramania Swamy temple not to receive pamphlets from Ayyakannu and allegedly calls him a fraud.
She also objects to him distributing pamphlets in the temple precincts. The pamphlets, according to Ayyakannu, president,National South Indian Rivers Inter-Linking Farmers Association, covers issues like dangers of Genetically Modified seeds, need for Cauvery Water Management Board, comprehensive crop insurance, remunerative prices for farmers and linking rivers.
Ayyakannu claimed that the pamphlet distribution was outside the main temple complex and near the seashore, while local BJP leaders said it was the outer temple precincts.
The leaders alleged that the pamphlets were "political" in nature as it was critical of the government and such material should not be distributed in a place of worship. Irked over being called a fraud, Ayyakkannu uttered something, which appeared muted in the video and also raised his hand against her.
The lady, who is Tuticorin District women's wing general secretary of BJP, then slapped him. An angry altercation ensued between the woman, a man who supported her and Ayyakkannu and his supporters. In the melee, the woman was also seen angrily holding up her footwear against the farmers' leader.
Ayyakannu, who has all along been critical of the BJP-led government at the Centre for "not setting up" CWMB, drought relief and unremunerative farm prices, had held over a month long stir in Delhi last year over such issues.
BJP condemned Ayyakkannu's behaviour and demanded action against him. In a video message, Nelliammal accused Ayyakannu of using highly derogatory words against her.
She said when Ayyakannu raised his hand against her, she raised her hand to prevent an attack on her. She alleged that Ayyakannu and her group beat her and pushed her away and police did not accept her complaint.
Ayyakannu on his part denied using any foul language. He, however, said some men who were around used some offencive words as they were ired by the attack over him.
The farmer leader began a 100-day campaign at Kanyakumari on 1 March, urging the State and Central governments to ensure that GM seeds are not imported. The drive is set to culminate in Chennai.
The campaign also covers other issues concerning farmers like "non-constitution" of CWMB and the impact on farmers.
The slap row comes close on the heels of BJP leader H Raja being in the eye of a storm over the statues of rationalist leader Periyar.