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Chennai floods: Amid calls for resignation, Jayalalithaa strikes an emotional note

Calling herself a “dear sister” of the people, the CM described the flood as “rarest of the rare” and said her government was carrying out relief works on a war-footing.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai |
December 16, 2015 2:57:20 am
Kerala minister P K Kunhalikutty (left) with other IUML leaders in a flood-affected area of Chennai on Tuesday. (Source: PTI) Kerala minister P K Kunhalikutty (left) with other IUML leaders in a flood-affected area of Chennai on Tuesday. (Source: PTI)

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Tuesday struck an emotional note as she sought to assure flood-affected people that “I will be with you at any time, don’t worry”.

Calling herself a “dear sister” of the people, the CM described the flood as “rarest of the rare” and said her government was carrying out relief works on a war-footing.

In the audio message, issued amid increasing attacks from the Opposition on the handling of the crisis, Jayalalithaa said she was struck with grief at the losses her people had suffered, and that she was taking all measures to mitigate them. She said she had even forgotten her name, Jayalalithaa, as the people had renamed her ‘Amma’ with utmost affection. “I will stand by you,” she said.

Faced with the DMK’s demand for a judicial probe on the alleged mishandling of Chembarambakkam waters and a demand for her resignation by the third front, Jayalalithaa’s statement acknowledged the role played by government and non-governmental agencies and volunteers in the relief works.

Her party, meanwhile, announced that all its 150 MLAs and 49 MPs would contribute their one month’s salary towards flood relief.

DMK Chief M Karunanidhi, however, rejected the justifications of Chief Secretary K Gnanadesikan regarding water management, and insisted on a judicial probe. Slamming Gnanadesikan’s statement that there was no red-tapism or delay in the opening of the sluice gates at Chembarambakkam reservoir on December 1, Karunanidhi said the chief secretary had no facts to prove his point. He asked why Jayalalithaa or Ganandesikan had failed to call a press conference to explain the situation, and questioned a week’s delay in responding to reports on the alleged failure in handling the flood.

Karunanidhi raised the demand for a judicial probe before Governor K Rosaiah last week.

On Monday, People’s Welfare Front (PWF), an alliance of four parties in Tamil Nadu — Vaiko’s MDMK, Dalit leader Thol Thirumavalavan’s VCK, CPI and CPM — demanded Jayalalithaa’s resignation for failing to handle the crisis. A PWF statement issued by Vaiko asked Jayalalithaa to take moral responsibility for the failure and resign.

Even as relief works continued in the city, actor Rajinikanth opened his Raghavendra Mandapam in Kodambakkam, a marriage hall, for hundreds of sanitary workers who have landed in the city from other districts to clean the sludge and garbage.

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