The portrait of former Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa was unveiled in the state assembly by Speaker P Dhanapal on Monday, even as opposition DMK and Congress boycotted the event, claiming the former AIADMK supremo was “convicted” in a disproportionate assets case and, therefore, did not deserve such an honour. DMK MLA J Anbazhagan on the day also petitioned the Madras High Court to intervene and have the portrait removed after his demand to the Speaker to cancel the event fell in deaf ears.
The portrait, which was unveiled in the presence of Chief Minister E Palaniswami and deputy CM O Panneerselvam, occupied a prominent position in the Assembly and was placed at a distance from the other 10 portraits of former CMs and Tamil Nadu icons, including CN Annadurai and MG Ramachandran. The MLAs were seen folding their hands in front of Jaya’s portrait after the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
DMK working president MK Stalin termed Monday as a “black day” in the history of the Assembly, and tweeted, “This move has brought down the dignity and sanctity of the House. Despite opposition from DMK and other parties, Speaker has gone ahead and allowed this to happen. This is unacceptable.”
On Sunday, several opposition parties like the CPI(M) and PMK joined DMK in opposing the ruling party’s move. CPI(M) State Secretary G Ramakrishnan said, “It will be a wrong precedent to unveil the portrait of a person who was convicted in the disproportionate assets case. We urge the Tamil Nadu government to give up this step.” PMK MP Anbumani Ramadoss told PTI his party was totally opposed to the move and if needed they would move court.
However, the BJP begged to differ, saying that notwithstanding the conviction, there was nothing wrong in unveiling the portrait as Jayalalithaa had worked for the state’s welfare. Jayalalithaa died in December 2016 while she was still CM and was out on bail in a corruption case.