Chennai: The MDMK general secretary Mr Vaiko said on Monday that he was hopeful that his nomination papers for the July 18 Rajya Sabha election from Tamil Nadu with DMK’s support will be accepted on Tuesday, day of scrutiny. Speaking to reporters at an urgently convened press conference at Dindigul, Mr Vaiko said though he had been handed down a one-year sentence on conviction by a special court in Chennai in a sedition case on July 5, he was the first person to be sentenced in a sedition case in post-Independent India.
He said sedition cases had been filed against several people under this ‘draconian colonial British piece of legislation’ but after Independence nobody had been punished under that provision. Prior to Independence, during the Freedom struggle, Vaiko said two persons who were sentenced under this IPC provision (section 124) was Mahatma Gandhi and Bala Gangadhar Tilak. Tilak was sentenced twice and on the second occasion for six years when he was sent to Mandalay prison in erstwhile Burma, he said.
After Indian Independence, several leaders including Jawaharlal Nehru and even a Law Commission had recommended the scrapping of this so-called sedition law, but the section still remained in the statue book, he said.
Terming his sentence as rather unusual under these circumstances, Vaiko said he was also the only MP in post-Independent India to have been arrested under the draconian 'Pota’ an act which was rescinded later.
Asking in what way he had waged war against the country, Vaiko sardonically said those advocating erection of statues to Nathuram Vinayak Godse who killed Mahatma Gandhi, are today described as “patriots”. “I do not wish to say anything more on this,” the MDMK leader added.
Vaiko said while the 'offence' for which he has been sentenced does not fall in the list of offences which attract instant disqualification under the Representation of the People Act (RPA), even otherwise, under another section of RPA, even if there was conviction for any offence which entailed more than two years punishment, only then a candidate cannot contest an election.
“The law is very clear and I am hopeful that my nomination papers will be accepted,” Vaiko added.
However, with doubts being expressed in some quarters, he said even before this court verdict had come, he met the DMK leader M K Stalin and suggested to him that DMK should simultaneously make alternate arrangement in case he faced a conviction and was not able to contest for the RS polls.
In line with that understanding, as a precautionary step, the DMK has fielded N R Elango, as its third candidate today, Vaiko said, adding, he was given to understand that if his papers were accepted on Tuesday, then Mr. Elango would withdraw his nomination. “I thought I should clarify the whole issue as MDMK does not wish to give room for needless speculations,” added Vaiko....