Days after the Madras High Court restored former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami’s status as the sole interim leader of the AIADMK, party leaders allied with him hit out at rebel leader and former Deputy CM O Panneerselvam’s son O P Ravindranath on Tuesday for praising a scheme of the DMK-led state government.
Ravindranath who is the party’s only MP praised the government’s ‘Pudhumai Penn monthly financial assistance programme for women undergraduate students, launched on Monday, and recalled several similar initiatives that the AIADMK government of Jayalalitha had launched in the state.
Hitting out at Ravindranath, the Palaniswami camp advised him and his father, popularly known as OPS, to join the DMK. The AIADMK also claimed that the DMK government had cancelled several welfare programmes started by Jayalalithaa. Both Ravindranath and OPS were expelled from the AIADMK after Palaniswami was elected interim general secretary in July with a majority. A single-judge Bench of the High Court on August 17 nullified the results of the July 11 meeting of the AIADMK general council and restored the status quo as on June 23. But on September 2, a Division Bench of the court set aside the previous order.
This is not the first time the MP has invited the party’s wrath for praising the DMK. In May, Ravindranath’s meeting with Chief Minister M K Stalin at the secretariat engendered a similar controversy after he lauded the DMK’s governance. Since the violence at the AIADMK headquarters on July 11, the Palaniswami camp has accused the state government of assisting “goons” brought up OPS to steal documents and damage property.
“This beloved son of OPS was here supporting DMK. I advise them to go and join DMK. You’ve been talking about party unity, so why don’t you all — Ravindranath, his father OPS, V K Sasikala, and T T V Dhinakaran — join Stalin to make that unity? Ravindranath is making such statements to express gratitude to the DMK on behalf of his father,” former minister D Jayakumar, the face of the Palaniswami camp, said on Tuesday.
He added, “In 2011, Amma (Jayalalithaa) introduced the Thalikku Thangam (gold for marriage) scheme in response to the extreme poverty of women and girls in our villages. Non-graduates received four grams of gold, while graduates received eight grams. More than 14 lakh women benefited from this, approximately Rs 7,000 crore was spent, and about seven tonnes of gold were distributed in the state under this scheme.”
Jayakumar said the DMK government scrapped that scheme for the Pudhumai Penn scheme, as part of which women students who completed their schooling from government schools would receive Rs 1,000 per month for their undergraduate studies. “Why did they exclude aided school students from this benefit?” asked the former minister. “Do you think that aided school students are rich? Similar schemes we ran, including Thalikku Thangam, were inclusive.”