Chennai: The Tamil Nadu Assembly witnessed uproarious scenes and heated exchanges between the Treasury benches and opposition DMK in the wake of a sarcastic remark made by the newly elected DMK MLA and former minister Senthil Balaji, against the AIADMK leadership.
Mr. Balaji, opening his speech while participating in the debate on the demands for grants for Excise and Electricity, first praised his leader M K Stalin, and then took potshots at the ruling AIADMK, saying that in DMK hard work was recognised. There was no culture of “either having to bend or crawl to appease the leader here (in DMK),” Balaji said in an indirect taunt at AIADMK leadership.
This remark rebounded on the DMK with the Treasury benches led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami tearing into Senthil Balaji. He asserted, “we know how he behaved when he was in the AIADMK.” Taking a dig at the recently re-elected member on a DMK ticket in the by-election from Aravakuruchi, the Chief Minister said, Senthil Balaji was perhaps the only member of the House to have changed three parties in such short span of time (AIADMK, AMMK and DMK). “Hope he will be loyal to the latest party he has joined,” Palaniswami said.
Even as these words drew protests from the DMK, Mr. Palaniswami was joined in with further counters by his Cabinet colleagues including Deputy Chief Minister, O. Pannerselvam, R B Udayakumar, D Jayakumar and M.R. Vijayabhaskar.
While Mr. Stalin rose to ask whether he could also raise in the House issues like 'Dharmayudhham cry' (raised earlier by Mr. Pannerselvam) against the AIADMK and about the 'mystery' surrounding the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, Mr. Pannerselvam defended his earlier remarks on these issues.
The Deputy Chief Minister said, Mr. Palaniswami and him had joined to ensure that the party (AIADMK) does not get into the control of undesirable private people, even as a probe is on regarding Ms Jayalalithaa's hospitalization and death.
At one stage DMK deputy leader Durai Murugan said it was not good convention to criticize a member for leaving one party to another. Senthil Balaji was unhappy with the way he was treated in the AIADMK and hence he has joined the DMK and the matter should be left at that, said Durai Murugan. Mr. Stalin also stood up to add that he had given instructions to DMK MLAs' not to praise him in the House and speak only on the subject before the House.
The noisy interludes, which went on for about 20 minutes, were brought to a close with the Speaker, Thiru P Dhanapal urging all the members on both sides to speak on the demand and not to sidetrack the debate....