Opposing the release of Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convicts, the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) on Thursday held silent protest in several parts of the state while the BJP accused the grand old party of adopting double standards in the issue.
The Congress party said its stand against AG Perarivalan’s release and key ally DMK supporting it would not affect ties between the 2 partners. Days ago, the ruling DMK allotted a Rajya Sabha seat to the national party and the Congress is expected to announce its nominee soon.
Both the Congress and BJP, however, converged on their opposition to Perarivalan’s release. The two parties said Perarivalan was not declared ‘not guilty’ by the Supreme Court and his release was only judicial in nature. Also, both the national rivals sought to know about ‘justice for the victims’ in the assassination case.
The Congress party workers covered their mouth using white clothes and held protests in several parts of the state.
TNCC president K S Alagiri led the protest at Chidambaram in Cuddalore District.
Speaking to reporters Alagiri said the Supreme Court has not held that Perarivalan was not guilty of offence and that he has no connection to the Rajiv Gandhi assassination. The court has released him over legal aspects and the delay of Governor in taking a decision, he said.
An important argument of those who had backed Perarivalan’s release was that he was a Tamilian, the TNCC leader said and demanded to know if it was ‘justice’ to demand and get released a man guilty of killing just because he happened to be a Tamilian.
When there were countless Tamilians in jail why the same logic was not being extended to them but applied only to Rajiv case convicts, he asked.
To a question, Alagiri said if the same logic was used, all convicts should be out of prison and the same question would also be posed in respect of Muslim prisoners convicted in the Coimbatore bomb blast case of 1998.
“It applies to Coimbatore too. If you are releasing them (Rajiv case convicts), why are you keeping them (Muslim convicts) in jail,” he asked.
On the likelihood of the release 6 others in the Rajiv case, he said, “it will lead to wrongs, there will be a deterioration in law and order and people will not accept it.” It will be a setback to those who make such efforts, the Congress leader said.
Asked if the Perarivalan release issue would affect the DMK-Congress ties, Alagiri said each political party has a stand and ‘we are telling you our stand and they are stating their stance.’ Neither the Congress party nor the DMK (or other allies) would prevail upon others to alter or change their stand on issues, Alagiri said apparently indicating that it would not affect the relationship between the allies.
On 7 November 2020, Alagiri had said that “if the court announces the release of seven Rajiv case convicts we will accept it”.
However, political parties rooting for their release is unacceptable, Alagiri had said adding only the judiciary should decide on remission of sentences.
BJP state unit chief K Annamalai said though Perarivalan has been set free by the Supreme Court using its powers unders Article 142, he and other convicts are not people who should be ‘celebrated.’ Stating that the BJP does not believe in malice, he said ‘now that he is set free, let Perarivalan live his life’, however the DMK should not set a wrong example to future generations by ‘celebrating’ such people.
Both Annamalai and Alagiri said that along with Rajiv Gandhi, ’17 others’ were killed including police personnel and
“don’t such victims deserve justice”, they asked.
Annamalai, addressing a press conference at BJP state headquarters ‘Kamalalayam’, here condemned ‘portrayal’ of convicts as those who have done sacrifices and made achievements.
The BJP leader said: “We should not forget the history, what happened on our soil and it must never be forgotten that they are convicted…a former Prime Minister was assassinated in the Tamil land.” In reference to Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convicts, no court ever said that they are not guilty, he said and reiterated that the party accepts the SC verdict.
Annamalai slammed the DMK for allegedly projecting as if Perarivalan was released following his acquittal in the Rajiv case and for getting into a ‘celebratory’ mode. He hit out at Chief Minister M K Stalin for meeting Perarivalan.
Targeting the Congress party, he accused the national rival for adopting ‘double standards’ on the issue, and thereby fooling the people.
Mocking at the TNCC for holding a silent protest ‘for an hour,’ Annamalai ridiculed the Congress for accepting a Rajya Sabha seat from the DMK under such circumstances and this was nothing but ‘fooling’ the people.
Rajiv Gandhi was a top Congress leader and a former Prime Minister and such a leader was killed and if the national party is serious about its commitment to its ideology, it should “withdraw its support to the DMK government”, Annamalai said. “There cannot be a bigger ideological challenge to the Congress party than this,” he said.
Since the DMK has a full majority in the Assembly and is not dependent on Congress for its survival, the Saffron party leader’s comment is seen as demanding its rival to sever its ties with the ruling Dravidian party. Annamalai accused the Congress and its leaders including Sonia Gandhi and Alagiri of adopting double standards on the issue of release of Rajiv case convicts.
“As the regards the BJP, the 7 Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convicts are guilty. There is no second opinion about it,” Annamalai said. The other six are V Sriharan alias Murugan, T Suthendraraja alias Santhan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas, P Ravichandaran and Nalini, and all of them are in jail since 1991.
Meanwhile, Perarivalan, who had earlier visited leaders including Stalin and former chief minister K Palaniswami to thank them for the efforts to get him released, called on MDMK founder Vaiko here on Thursday and thanked him for his support.