In the centre of controversy since admitting that she had slapped DMK MP Tiruchi Siva at Delhi airport, MP Sasikala Pushpa alleged in the Rajya Sabha Monday that her “leader” — she stopped short of directly naming AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa — had slapped her and was forcing her to resign from the House. Shortly afterwards, AIADMK headquarters in Chennai issued a statement sacking Pushpa for bringing ill repute to the party and Jayalalithaa.
On Saturday, Pushpa had said she had slapped Siva after he had “spoken badly” about her party and its leader. On Monday, she alleged there was a threat to her life and dignity, and asked the government whether it would save her.
Following Pushpa’s admission, Jayalalithaa had summoned her at her home Sunday. It was at this meeting that Pushpa alleged her leader had slapped her.
Party sources said Jayalalithaa had pulled up Pushpa and sought a written apology as well as her resignation as Rajya Sabha MP. “Pushpa apologised but refused to resign,” a senior leader said.
When the Rajya Sabbha convened, Pushpa rushed to the well to make a statement. Sent back, she broke down as she alleged, “I have a threat to my life, I am being compelled to resign from my constitutional post by my leader. I will not do it. I have been harassed and slapped by her yesterday.”
“If you have any complaint, you are free to approach the honorable chairman,” deputy chairman P J Kurien told her. She replied, “You have to give me dignity, Sir. If an MP is slapped, where is human dignity? I need protection.”
Congress members jumped to her support, demanding she be allowed to speak as it was a serious issue. Kurien said it was an unnecessary charge. “She came to the well and wept, that’s why I allowed her. I understood her emotions. I did not prevent it. All I said is that the chairman is the custodian of all members, and he will protect her also.”
Allowed to speak further, Pushpa said, “I want to thank my leader, as she gave me this post. But if a leader can slap an MP… I need the government’s protection. They are compelling me to resign. Why should I resign?”
Asking her to write to the chairman, Kurien said, “Don’t narrate or say anything which amounts to allegations against anybody who cannot come here and protect [themselves]. If you have a personal problem, that only you can say.” She replied, “There is no personal problem, but it is the privilege of an MP to speak.”
Naresh Agrawal of the Samajwadi Party said a member had the full right to raise personal problems and seek protection. AIADMK members, meanwhile, demanded expunging of extraneous remarks. “Any allegation made against anybody who cannot come and protect [himself or herself] is expunged,” Kurien said.
Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said, “This discussion is not going to add to the glory of the House”. Stating he would not join the issue, he said if any member had a problem relating to security, she could write to the chairman.
Sources in the DMK and the AIADMK, meanwhile, said Pushpa and Siva were actually good friends. “Maybe that is why Siva did not file a complaint after she slapped him,” said a DMK leader.
After her outburst, Pushpa addressed the media in Delhi. She said she had been under pressure to resign as MP for two months. She said the AIADMK leadership wants to give her Rajya Sabha seat to someone else. “So they are forcing me to resign,” she said.
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