AIADMK demands Bharat Ratna for Jaya, Periyar and Anna

Chennai: The ruling AIADMK in Tamilnadu renewed its demand for conferring Bharat Ratna on its late supremo Jayalalithaa even as it sought the country’s highest civilian honour for late Dravidian stalwarts E V RamasamyPeriyar‘ and C N Annadurai.

A meeting of the party’s Executive Committee, a key decision-making body, urged the Central government to award Bharat Ratna posthumously for the three leaders for their struggles and achievements in public life.

While the party had made the demand for honouring Jayalalithaa with Bharat Ratna months after her demise in December 2016, the move to seek the honour for Periyar and Annadurai, a former chief minister, comes decades after their death.

The latest demand comes days after DMK Rajya Sabha member Tiruchi Siva asked the Centre to posthumously confer Bharat Ratna to party chief M Karunanidhi as a tribute to his outstanding and exemplary work for the people.

Raising the issue during Zero Hour in the Rajya Sabha, Siva had said Karunanidhi, who passed away on 7 August, was a Dravidian stalwart and the tallest leader of the country.

Yesterday’s AIADMK meeting, held under party presidium chairman E Madhusudhanan, adopted a resolution, seeking Bharat Ratna for social reformer Ramasamy, popularly known as Periyar, Annadurai and Jayalalithaa.

Party Coordinator O Panneerselvam and Coordinator K Palaniswami among others attended the meeting.

Jayalalithaa, the resolution said, was a “proud daughter of Mother India,” who loved the people. She overcame many difficulties to emerge victorious, and her achievements as a starlet, political leader and chief minister of tamilnadu were “grand,” it said.

As the chief minister, she launched a number of welfare measures, especially benefiting women and children and was an “upholder of social justice,” it said.

The resolution recalled her giving away her gold jewels to then Prime Minister Lalbahadur Shastri during the 1965 Indo-Pak war and said it “displayed her patriotism.”

It described Periyar as “one of the great revolutionaries” the world has seen and said he had sowed the seeds of revolution through his oratory and writings.

“He tirelessly strived against social practices that enslaved women, besides the exploitation in the name of caste,” it said.

Heaping praise on Annadurai, DMK founder and the first non-Congress Chief Minister in Tamilnadu after the country’s independence, the AIADMK said he showed for the first time that a regional party can storm to power in Independent India.

The party recalled his decision to rename Madras State as Tamilnadu, besides his contribution in addressing issues like hunger, food safety and welfare of various sections, and urged the Centre to confer the Bharat Ratna on him.

The meeting also passed resolutions, lauding the party’s K Palaniswami-led government on many issues, including the handling of the Cauvery issue. It adopted resolutions condoling the deaths of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Karunanidhi.

It also condoled the loss of lives due to recent rain fury in neighbouring Kerala and Karnataka.