PERIYAKULAM: In a devastating political attack from the home turf of the Deputy Chief Minister and AIADMK's coordinator, O. Pannerselvam, the DMK leader MK Stalin on Wednesday lambasted the EPS-OPS administration for having "pledged both your party (AIADMK) and the Tamil Nadu government" to the BJP at the Centre just to "save your positions and personal interests".
"Even pledging something in a pawn shop can be redeemed, but you have pledged it with Narendra Modi and Amit Shah which is not redeemable," Stalin said, in a no-holds-barred attack on the Chief Min-ister, Edappadi K Palaniswami and his deputy Pannerselvam.
Mr. Stalin was addressing a huge rally here in support of the Congress candidate EVKS Elangovan, contesting as part of the DMK-led front from Theni constituency here in the April 18 Lok Sabha polls and the Assembly by-poll from Periyakulam to be simultaneously held for 18 Assembly seats.
Refuting Mr. Pannerselvam's charge made in Madurai on Tuesday that the DMK as part of the Congress-led UPA at the Centre had "completely compromised" on the State's rights as 'despicable piece of falsehood', Stalin, citing from OPS' speech in the Assembly recently when he presented the State budget as Finance minister, said the funds sought from the Centre for 'Gaja' cyclone relief had not been fully received, nor the GST collections. "So who compromised Tamil Nadu's interests and rights, we (DMK) or they (AIADMK)," Stalin asked the crowd and added it was the AIADMK MP and Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha M Thambidurai, who had lamented openly that "We (TN) are like beggars seeking alms, even as the Centre is dragging its feet in transferring over Rs 10,000 crore due to Tamil Nadu." It was the AIADMK regime which had "surrendered" State's interests, Stalin stressed.
Hailing the illustrious political background of the Congress veteran Elangovan, a grand-nephew of the Dravidian Movement's leader Periyar, Mr Stalin said Elangovan had been chosen for this seat not merely because he "is the son of EVK Sampath" a great scholar and orator in the DMK in its formative days.
Elangovan by himself had credentials as an effective, efficient Minister at the Centre and a powerful speaker who speaks his mind not fearing consequences which won him this nomination. "Can the same thing be said of the AIADMK candidate contesting Theni," asked Mr Stalin, underscoring the fact that P Ravindranath got the seat "merely because he is OPS' son."
"In fact Mr OPS would not have forgotten how Ms Jayalalithaa before the 2016 Assembly polls was reluctant to even give him a party ticket and it was after much cajoling that OPS got to contest," Stalin pointed out, taking potshots at the 'dynastic' argument thrown by the AIADMK against the DMK nominees for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Raising several issues related to Constitutional propriety and governance, Mr Stalin said it was a mockery of all accepted norms that while 11 AIADMK MLAs' led by OPS who voted against the EPS government in the Assembly in the confidence vote, after efforts by Ms. Sasikala to ascend the 'gaddi' was stalled by the Supreme court judgment in the assets case after Ms Jayalalithaa's demise, 18 AIADMK MLAs' who merely sought a change of leadership in the AIADMK legislature party had been disqualified.
Though the Madras High court verdict had upheld the "disqualification" of the 18 AIADMK MLAs (supporters of dissident leader TTV Dhinakaran), Stalin said the Supreme court's verdict on the DMK's petition questioning how the 11 MLAs' led by OPS could continue to be in office in a clear case of violation of the Anti-Defection Act, was expected anytime now. "We do not know whether that verdict will come before the April 18 elections to Lok Sabha and a mini-general election by way of by-polls to 18 Assembly seats are held here or after that, but that ruling would impact the ruling party," he said, hinting that the AIADMK was in a very precarious position.
Mr Stalin also sought to drive home the point that if the simultaneous by-elections to 18 Assembly constituencies were being held now, it was a direct fallout of the Constitutional incongruence of 11 MLAs' led by OPS who voted against the EPS regime, allowed to remain in power, but the "positions (MLA seats) of 18 AIADMK MLAs' who voted to help EPS win the confidence vote, having been snatched away by a specious disqualification." This is constitutionally and politically "ludicrous", he said.
Reiterating his strong belief that Rahul Gandhi would emerge as the leader in Parliament after the Lok Sabha elections and "become the next Prime Minister", Mr Stalin asked the electorate to send both the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and the EPS-OPS regime here packing home." That is the most significant goal of the present elections, he emphasised.
Flagging issues related to corruption and misgovernance under the present AIADMK regime, Mr Stalin went on with a lengthy unmasking of several episodes starting from Ms Jayalalithaa's "shock" when she was alive, on hearing that OPS' son was "director" in some big infrastructure companies which was bagging the "most important building contracts" in Tamil Nadu, even without "her knowing it".
Questioning the moral high ground now being taken by OPS, Stalin alleged that OPS and his kin had a string of properties, estates and land holdings to their credit in Bodi and its surroundings in Theni district and in other parts of the State.
The DMK leader charged that many things have happened, including the circumstances in which Ms Jayalalithaa was admitted to Apollo Hospital in September 2016, her treatment and who was in "control" of the purse-strings when she was in the hospital, OPS falling out from Sasikala's favour after the former CM's demise in December 2016, OPS rushing to the 'Samadhi' of Ms Jayalalithaa to "meditate" and then demand a probe into the circumstances of the AIADMK supremo's admittance, treatment and death, right down to the more recent incidents related to the heist and murder at Kodanad tea estate.
Adverting to certain other incidents that began with the raid on Karur Anbunathan's house before the last elections, Stalin further alleged that the present Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami was also a "party to the goings on", as one of the biggest highways department works contractor was "close to EPS and who is also now proximate to OPS."
The latest Madras High court verdict setting aside the election of the late AIADMK candidate Bose from Tirupurankundram constituency, on the ground that Ms Jayalalithaa's thumb impression at the hospital on the form authorising Bose's candidature was not in order, "vindicated" DMK's stand that several things were "shrouded in mystery" when Ms Jayalalithaa was in hospital.
The DMK leader also tore to pieces the EPS-OPS current campaign slogan that the country's security interests were safe "only in the hands of Narendra Modi". "Why did Pulwama happen in the first place," asked Stalin. "Modi claims to be the chowkidar, but he is chowkidar only for the likes of Vijay Mallya, Edappadi Palaniswami, Vijayabhaskar (TN Health Minister) and also helping to shield those behind the sexual exploitation of over 200 women in Pollachi which came to light recently," claimed Stalin.
Listing several welfare schemes implemented in Theni district, including a protected drinking water supply project for Periyakulam town, under the previous DMK rule when M Karunanidhi was the Chief Minister, Mr. Stalin assured the people of Theni that the "Neutrino project" will be scrapped if DMK was voted back to power.
The DMK will also ensure the interests of farmers in the Mullaiperiyar dam issue and work for overall development of the constituency and the state, taking environmental concerns in view, added Stalin.
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