Updated: April 1, 2021 9:05:47 pm
Terming his remarks against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami “obscene” and akin to “lowering the dignity of women”, the Election Commission of India (ECI) Thursday reprimanded senior DMK leader A Raja and barred him from campaigning for 48 hours. The EC also delisted his name from the list of star campaigners ahead of the assembly elections scheduled on April 6.
“The commission also advises you to be watchful and not to make intemperate, indecent, derogatory, obscene remarks and lower the dignity of women in future during the election campaign,” reads the ECI order dated April 1 and addressed to Raja. Following a complaint by the AIADMK over his remarks against Palaniswami, the EC had sent a notice to Raja on March 30.
It was last week during campaigning at Chepauk-Thiruvallikeni constituency of Stalin’s son Udhayanidhi Stalin that Raja targeted CM Palaniswami. “While Stalin was born out of a legitimate relationship and a normal delivery, Palaniswami was a premature delivery, born out of an illicit relationship,” he had said.
DMK MP Kanimozhi was the first to express displeasure over Raja’s remarks and the party chief M K Stalin also sent out a strong message asking party leaders to avoid making such statements.
Palaniswami, too, sounded upset during a campaign speech as he referred to Raja’s remarks.
Raja, who refused to admit his mistake initially, was forced to apologise when AIADMK cadres launched protests against him in many places.
In his apology, Raja said he came to know from the media that Palaniswami was “deeply hurt” over his statement about him. “I am deeply saddened for the fact that he was upset over my statements interpreted out of context. Here I express my regret. Or above all, if he is personally hurt beyond the political context, I express my sincere apologies. I repeat to Palaniswami and everyone that my statement was not a personal remark about two leaders but a critique about them,” Raja said.
Referring to derogatory remarks of Raja and a few DMK leaders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was campaigning in Dharapuram on Tuesday, said “they will insult many other women of Tamil Nadu” if they come back to power.
“I want to tell the Congress and DMK… Please control your party leaders. I want to tell the Congress and DMK, the people of Tamil Nadu are noting everything. They will never tolerate the insult to the women of the state… Congress and DMK have insulted the respected mother of Tamil Nadu CM… If they come to power, they will insult many other women of Tamil Nadu,” Modi said at the poll rally.
Following the EC’s notice, Raja has sent an interim reply claiming that he neither made any statement that violated the model code of conduct nor one which was derogatory or defamatory against K Palaniswami.
He said he was only using the simile of newborn babies to explain the evolution of Stalin and Palaniswami as political leaders.
Raja, a former union minister in the UPA and the key accused in the 2G spectrum case, is one of the most powerful leaders of DMK in Tamil Nadu. He commands huge respect among the DMK cadres across the state. He is one of the few leaders after Karunanidhi known for his oratory skills as well as for being well versed in Dravidian politics and literature.