CHENNAI: A senior functionary of the AIADMK, who owes allegiance to T.T.V. Dhinakaran, on Friday stoked a major controversy by openly boasting before party workers that Rs 20 tokens were issued to people in RK Nagar by-poll to tilt their vote in favour of the rebel leader, who won the election by a resounding majority.
The senior functionary also said it was Dhinakaran who asked former Perambur MLA P. Vetrivel to release the video that showed J. Jayalalithaa in her hospital bed after the rival AIADMK factions pasted posters alleging that V.K. Sasikala killed her.
Thottiyam Rajashekar, who was handpicked by Dhinakaran to head the Tiruchi South unit of his faction, boasted before his party functionaries in what was supposedly a closed-door meeting that “money was indeed given to voters” in RK Nagar and it was Dhinakaran who directed Vetrivel to make the video public to counter the “negative propaganda” that was being unleashed by EPS-OPS faction.
Rajashekar's statement is expected to give much-needed fodder to the ruling AIADMK, Opposition DMK and other outfits like the BJP, which have been riling Dhinakaran for “buying his victory” in RK Nagar. Political analysts said the statement has given legitimacy to allegations that money played a major part in the elections and said the TTV camp should clarify.
It also triggered a political slugfest with BJP and AIADMK accusing the Dhinakaran faction of “manufacturing the victory”, though the rebel AIADMK leader himself toed Rajasekaran's line that the statement was made to “enthuse” cadre.
“The other faction had pasted posters alleging that it was Sasikala who killed late Amma. We did not know what to do and it was Dhinakaran who told Vetrivel to release the video that was in his possession. Vetrivel was quite hesitant in executing Dhinakaran's directive, but it was me who encouraged him to do so in the interest of the party,” Rajashekar told the party meeting.
“We just distributed Rs 20 tokens and we (promised) that money will be given to them,” he boasted before a few hundred party functionaries in Tiruchi. As a video footage of his controversial speech went viral and found its way in news bulletins on television channels, Rajashekar beat a hasty retreat by claiming he was “speaking in the tone” only to encourage and enthuse party workers.
Rumours had it that Rs 20 tokens were given to voters to be exchanged for Rs 10,000 or more at a “specified locations” later.
AIADMK spokesperson and former minister B. Valarmathi said the “secret of victory” has formally been announced. “We always knew the victory was bought and now the cat has finally come out of the bag. As regards to the video issue, Justice A. Arumughaswamy Commission should inquire into the issue,” she said.
Tamilisai demanded that EC disqualify Dhinakaran as MLA and asked people to think about whether the family should have a place in politics.