50-YEAR BASH –
By our Special Correspondent
Chennai, April 4: AIADMK supremo, Ms J. Jayalalithaa launched a blistering attack on chief minister M. Karunanidhi on Wednesday for letting the state celebrate the golden jubilee of his innings as a legislator, terming it a huge waste of public money at a time when people were reeling under spiralling prices of essential commodities.
In a statement here Ms Jayalalithaa appealed to President Dr Abdul Kalam to reject the invitation to attend a special session of the Assembly on May 10 to felicitate Mr Karunanidhi on his completion of 50 years as a legislator. He was first elected to the House in 1957.
The organising committee led by finance minister K. Anbazhagan has drawn up ambitious plans for celebrating the DMK chief’s silver jubilee inside the House on May 10 and 11. Another function has been planned outside the Assembly on the second day in which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi are due to participate.
“How dare they invite us to join in a celebration for felicitating Karunanidhi, who had called me a pig and worse things despite my being a former chief minister and the leader of the opposition?” fumed Ms Jayalalithaa reacting to the committee’s letter inviting her party’s presence at the function.
Arguing that Mr Karunanidhi fell far short of 50 years of serving as a legislator, she asked, “Should the government spend crores of rupees for celebrating the golden jubilee of an 84-year-old man who cannot understand the difference between 38 and 50 years?” She recalled that after getting elected in 2001, Mr Karunanidhi had not attended the House for the entire period till 2006 and only signed on the register in the lobby “to save” his membership. Also, he did not attend the Assembly for most part of the period when the late AIADMK founder M. G. Ramachandran was the chief minister, Ms Jayalalithaa said. She said if anyone elected to the Assembly in 1957 had to be felicitated, the honour should go to DMK general secretary K. Anbazhagan “besides any other politician still alive since then.” But then, Mr Karunanidhi had only been interested in creating a cheer brigade for himself, she alleged. “If he wants, let him hold the celebrations in Anna Arivalayam (DMK headquarters). Why should public money be squandered to felicitate an individual at a time when the people are enveloped by darkness and despair owing to rising prices?” demanded the AIADMK chief, listing out various ‘shortcomings’ in her archrival in the harshly worded statement.
Mr Karunanidhi has the unique record of winning every election he has contested since his first win at Kulithalai in 1957. He was not a member of the Assembly during 198389, when he was in the (now defunct) legislative council. He won the Harbour seat in the 1991 Assembly poll but resigned as he ended up being the lone DMK member in the House.
Ms Jayalalithaa’s request to President Kalam not to attend the Tamil Nadu Assembly is a repeat of the DMK’s similar appeal when the Jayalalithaa government had invited him to address the House in August 2004. The DMK had then told the President not to sully himself by attending the Assembly, when the opposition parties were not being allowed to function freely and democracy was “ trampled upon ” almost every day.
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