Hitting back at P Chidambaram for his barb against ruling AIADMK over its support to abrogation of Article 370, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami on Tuesday said the veteran Congress leader was “only a burden on earth” and need not be taken seriously.
In a blistering attack, Palaniswami said the former union minister was only concerned about his interests and not that of the country and sought to know his contribution to the state all these years.
He was responding to reported remarks of Chidambaram on Sunday that if the Centre decided to make Tamil Nadu a union territory like it had done with Jammu and Kashmir, the ruling AIADMK would not resist such a move. Chidambaram had also said seven regional parties, including AIADMK, did not cooperate in opposing the Centre’s move out of ‘fear’.
Palaniswami’s remarks drew sharp rebuke from Karti, Chidambaram’s son and Sivaganga Lok Sabha MP, who asked if there was any political decency in his comments. State Congress President K S Alagiri attacked the chief minister, saying he had come to office “by accident” and asked him not to “throw stones from a glass house.”
In his tirade, Palaniswami said despite being a Central Minister for long, Chidambaram had not addressed issues concerning the state including the Cauvery river water dispute. “What schemes has P Chidambaram brought (to Tamil Nadu), please tell me. How long was he the Union Minister? (but) what is the use to the country..(Chidambaram) is only a burden on the earth,” the chief minister told reporters.
Palaniswami even asked if Chidambaram “gave adequate funds” to the state while handling the Finance portfolio. “Did he usher in new industries or any projects. Did he solve the Cauvery dispute or the Mullaperiyar issue, or that of the Palar?” he asked, referring to Tamil Nadu’s inter-state disputes involving Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, respectively. “For him, only his selfish (interests) are important, not that of the country’s,” he said, adding the Congress veteran need not be taken seriously. “People have already rejected him,” he claimed.
Palaniswami wondered if Chidambaram had toured the state and pointed out that as a Chief Minister he has visited Salem several times and interacted with members of public. The ruling party was delivering various public welfare schemes, he added.
Replying to a question, Palaniswami also indicated the AIADMK’s stand on revoking special staus to Jammu and Kashmir under Art 370 was in line with late party chief J Jayalalithaa’s views expressed in the Rajya Sabha in 1984. Jayalalithaa, then a member of the Upper House, had reportedly made indications of supporting scrapping of the special status to that state.
Reacting sharply to Palaniswami’s attack on his father, Karti sought to know if it was proper for a chief minister to use such words. In an apparent reference to Palaniswami being made chief minister in 2017 following internal rumblings in AIADMK in the wake of Jayalalithaa’s death, Karti said he had come to the post by virtue of a “historic accident.”
Palaniswami was made CM after his predecessor O Panneerselvam revolted against V K Sasikala, close aide of Jayalalithaa who staked claim to form government after being elected AIADMK legislature party leader in February 2017, two months after Jayalalithaa’s death. However, the Supreme Court days later convicted and sentenced Sasikala to a four year jail term in a corruption case, following which Palaniswami was made the chief minister.
Speaking to reporters in Dindigul, Karti said Palaniswami’s “conscience will prick when he offers prayers tomorrow.” His father had presented the union budget nine times and was counted as the “best Finance Minister in Asia,” the Congress MP said. “He (Palaniswami) became Chief Minister by a historic accident. Can he make such remarks (against Chidambaram)… Is there any political decency in it?” he asked.
On Sunday, Chidambaram had taken potshots at seven regional parties ruling in as many states, saying they did not cooperate against the BJP’s move to scrap Article 370 in the Rajya Sabha out of “fear”. Expressing dissatisfaction over non-cooperation of opposition parties, the Congress leader had said, “I know we do not have majority in Lok Sabha, but had the seven parties (AIADMK, YSRCP, TRS, BJD, AAP, TMC, JDU) cooperated, the opposition would have been in majority in the RS. This is something disappointing.”
Alagiri listed out the various “achievements” of Chidambaram from his entry to the Rajya Sabha in 1984 to the schemes and initiatives announced by him as Finance Minister. In a detailed statement, he said Chidambaram was accepted by many for his “sharp acumen” and credited him with ushering in various reforms which, he said, put the country on the path of economic development.
“He presented a dream budget in 1996” during the United Front government, the TN Congress chief said. Later, he allocated Rs 1,000 crore for the Nemmeli seawater desalination plant “to quench the thirst of the people of Chennai,” he added. “History knows how Mr P Chidambaram got various posts gradually. They came his way only because of his efficient handling (of things). He never went behind posts,” he said. “But people of Tamil Nadu know how Palaniswami came to the post (of CM)… therefore Mr Palaniswami, don’t throw stones from a glass house,” Alagiri added.