Speaker P Dhanapal on Monday unveiled the portrait of late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in the Assembly, inviting kudos as well as criticism from political parties.
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, addressing the House, said it is ‘God Jayalalithaa’ who is still leading Tamil Nadu into progress. Deputy CM O Panneerselvam recalled how devastated the party was when they first heard about Jayalalithaa’s death, equating Jayalalithaa’s presence to that of divinity and crediting her with the state’s development in the past few decades.
The portrait was made by R Mathiazhagan, former principal of Government Arts College.
Opposition parties, including the Congress, PMK, DMDK and CPM questioned the move, calling Jayalalithaa a convict.
Referring to his party’s petition challenging Jayalalithaa’s portrait in the House, DMK working president M K Stalin said, “Our case against this will come up in the Madras High Court tomorrow. We condemn this. She was a convict. Still Speaker Dhanapal went against the values of the House and unveiled this portrait.”
When DMK’s petition came up for hearing, first bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose said the plea would be taken up on Tuesday. The petition noted that Jayalalithaa was originally convicted by a special court, and though the same was set aside by the Karnataka High Court, the Supreme Court found all the accused including her guilty of corruption charges on an appeal.
The petition also noted that DMK had already moved a plea in the High Court seeking to remove the name and photos of Jayalalithaa from government offices, buildings, public sector undertakings and government schemes — a case that is still pending.
The petition said the Speaker’s hurried decision to unveil Jayalalithaa’s portrait in the House ignored this pending case.
Besides DMK, Congress and IUML legislators also boycotted the function and their seats were occupied by AIADMK cadres. The controversy also led to a minor conflict in the Congress, as Congress MLA S Vijayadharani met Dhanapal and congratulated him for unveiling Jayalalithaa’s portrait.
She told the media that she admired Jayalalithaa as a woman leader. Congress state leadership said they will look into the contrarian view of Vijayadharani.
TTV Dinakaran, rebel faction leader of AIADMK, said the ruling faction was downplaying the event. “Being a national leader admired by many senior politicians in the country, this event should have been organised in the presence of all of them, inviting all national leaders to Chennai,” he said.