AIADMK boycotts legislature centenary event, justifies decision

DMK says it does not indulge in ‘petty politics’

The AIADMK on Monday justified its decision to boycott the centenary celebrations of the Tamil Nadu legislature at Fort St. George.

The AIADMK’s grouse was directed more towards the unveiling of a portrait of former Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi than the centenary celebrations. S. Semmalai, an organisation secretary and former Minister, said the DMK not only boycotted the unveiling of a portrait of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in February 2018, but also approached the High Court against the move. “Under such circumstances, would it be fair on our part to attend the event?”

S. Ravi, deputy Whip of the legislature party, wondered how AIADMK legislators could be expected to take part in the event when the DMK, while in Opposition, did not participate in the function held in memory of Jayalalithaa. D. Jayakumar, former Minister, accused the DMK of not having displayed political decency for Jayalalithaa, who was a six-time Chief Minister.

In April 2018, the High Court dismissed a public interest litigation petition filed by DMK MLA J. Anbazhagan, seeking a direction to the Speaker and the Secretary of the Legislative Assembly to remove the portrait of Jayalalithaa from the precincts of the Assembly.

Mr. Jayakumar also questioned the rationale behind the celebrations. According to him, the constitution of the first Assembly in 1952 only should be taken into account as it was then that the country had become a republic. “How can the establishment of the legislature in 1921 be considered when the country was still under British rule at the time?” he wondered.

Rebutting the criticism about the centenary celebrations, R. Avudaiappan, former Assembly Speaker (2006-11), explained that the day’s event marked the completion of 100 years of a system where directly-elected representatives of the legislature were the dominant constituents of the House. The Justice Party, which launched the Dravidian movement in the State, obtained a majority in the Legislative Council as it bagged 63 seats out of the 98 members directly elected by the people. The Justice Party captured power for the first time and, as a result, several measures in the area of social justice were undertaken, including the issuance of “communal G.O.s” and providing reservation in employment to backward sections of society.

On the issue pertaining to the unveiling of Jayalalithaa’s portrait, A. Saravanan, joint secretary of the DMK spokespersons’ wing, pointed out that the party had taken the decision “as a matter of principle” because Jayalalithaa was, he contended, a “convicted person”, and the unveiling of a portrait of such a person would set a bad precedent. “We do not indulge in petty politics. This can be borne out by the fact that Amma Unavagams continue to function with the portraits of Jayalalithaa being kept there though it is nearly three months since my party came to power,” he added.

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