Amid a controversy over former union minister A Raja’s remarks comparing Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami to DMK chief MK Stalin’s slippers, AIADMK has registered a complaint with the chief electoral officer of Tamil Nadu calling the remarks “vulgar" and “scandalous".
The AIADMK lawyers wing in its letter asked for the de-barring of Raja. The letter sought swift and stringent action against Raja, saying, “A Raja has undermined the reputation of the leaders of our party also subverting the elections process."
The AIADMK requested the Election Commission to register a case against Raja under the provisions of the Electoral Offences and the Indian Penal code.
This comes a day after Raja said during an election meeting, “Till the other day, Edappadi Palaniswami worked in jaggery market, how can he be competition to Stalin? The value of Stalin’s chappal is more than you by one rupee. And he dares Stalin to challenge him?"
In the run up to the elections, Raja has launched attacks on Palaniswami, who has been engaged in a separate war of words with Stalin himself. Raja alleged that Palaniswami was siding with the BJP and using political manipulation to stay in power in Tamil Nadu after the death of J Jayalithaa.
While his remarks created controversy, Raja told News18 that his speech was edited and circulated. “Should my speech, edited and cut and circulated on social media, be construed as though to tarnish the image of Palaniswami, then I cannot be held responsible for that.
“During my election campaigning, while I was trying to draw a picture of the way MK Stalin and Edappadi Palaniswami have risen in politics, my speech has cut and edited in various places to create a different impression. I see it getting circulated on social media.I did not have intention to speak in a derogatory way about his birth," Raja said.
In his defence, Palaniswami turned the criticism around to underscore his roots as a farmer, “Just look at their language. To say I’m worth less than the slippers worn by Stalin. Be that as it may. I am a farmer and we are poor. We toil in the fields and buy what is possible. They do scams over Rs 1.76 lakh crore and make the gains they want."
DMK leaders feel that Raja perhaps went a little too far in his criticism of Palaniswami. A senior DMK leader, who is equally close to Raja and Stalin, said, “A certain level of dignity should be there in any commentary."
“There could be charges, even false charges against one another but you cannot stoop to such a level. In fact, I insist that any political commentary should not fall below a set standard of dignity,” the DMK leader said and added that he wasn’t the only one who felt that Raja had gone too far, and several members of the DMK shared this feeling.
A Raja, just around the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, had severely criticised Palaniswami’s methods of dealing with the outbreak. Reacting to Palaniswami’s claims of his swindling over Rs 1.76 lakh crore in the 2G spectrum case, Raja had mounted a vigorous defence of himself at a press conference arranged particularly to clear his taint in the 2G case.
Dravidian political rivalry witnessed during the days of MG Ramachandran and M Karunanidhi, and then during the times of Jayalalithaa have always been marked by acrimony. In public meetings and press conferences, opponents from the two parties have always slammed each other. While political decency seemed to have prevailed, the recent exchange suggests otherwise.