CM, deputy train guns on DMK at MGR centenary fete

Chennai: The valedictory function of late leader M G Ramachandran’s birth centenary Sunday saw DMK bashing by Chief Minister K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam, highlighting ‘achievements’ of ruling AIADMK.

Denying DMK’s barb that the MGR events were ‘extravagant,’ Palaniswami said these functions were not “pompous” as made out, but people-centric and aligned towards taking welfare measures for their benefit. “Every (MGR) event is centred around work for the people.”

Stalin had dubbed the events as “pompous,” accused the government of seeking political mileage from the events and for attacking his party and its late patriarch M Karunanidhi and said he would not participate in the function. AMMK leader T T V Dhinakaran too had said he would not participate.

Palaniswami said Stalin was always in the habit of uttering lies about the AIADMK government. “Whatever he utters to reporters are lies… he claims that nothing (welfare schemes) has been implemented during our rule” when the fact was that a slew of measures have been implemented, he said.

Citing incidents of violence involving DMK workers, including that of a party functionary beating up a hotel owner and another attacking a woman at a beauty parlour (video clips of which went viral), he asked if Stalin condemned them. Stalin had visited the restaurant owner and pacified him, and disciplinary action was taken against the functionary.

Marking the culmination of the centenary events, the Chief Minister announced a slew of projects for Chennai worth Rs 18.79 crore, including a world class international airport near here. The centenary events were held in 31 districts by the government, beginning at Madurai on 30 June 2017, and the valedictory function was held here Sunday.

Emphasising that welfare schemes were implemented at all MGR events in 31 districts, Palaniswami, without naming any party, said slander was spread and efforts made to halt the celebrations by some who were unable to stomach such good work being done for the people.

“They faced failure in that too. I am happy that the event was held in a grand manner, overcoming all opposition. Palaniswami said Rs 10,884.42 crore worth of projects were implemented during the MGR events in 31 districts. Palaniswami had inaugurated over Rs 5,140.10 crore worth of projects and laid foundation stones for Rs 5,747.24 crore worth of new projects, distributed Rs 5,464.79 worth welfare assistance to 8,26,392 beneficiaries in connection with MGR centenary events.

The Chief Minister said government orders had been issued for 434 of 547 announcements made during the centenary events, and work was on for another 391 projects, out of which 43 had been completed. Earlier in the day, the Madras High Court directed removal of all unauthorised banners in connection with the event.

Last year, an activist had moved the court against bringing school children to the MGR centenary events and an injuction was granted restraining it. Priding himself as an ordinary party worker from a farming family, Palaniswami said such a rise was possible only in the AIADMK.

Deputy Chief Minister Panneerselvam claimed that 10 lakh people participated in the valedictory function. On Stalin’s barb that the MGR events targeted his party and its late leader Karunanidhi, he said they had to mention the ‘betrayals’ of the then DMK government on issues like Cauvery, while speaking of the achievements of late AIADMK leaders MGR and Jayalalithaa.

“How can we avoid mentioning betrayal of DMK on Cauvery, the Sri Lankan Tamils issue and ceding of Katchatheevu islet when that party was in power?” he asked. Referring to the killings of Tamil people in Sri Lanka (in 2009, during the civil war) when DMK and its ally Congress were in power at the State and Centre, respectively, he said no efforts were taken to halt it.

He recalled various steps taken by Jayalalithaa like seeking economic sanction against Sri Lanka and said the then Chief Minister Karunanidhi observed a fast for a few hours in 2009 and announced that the war has ended. “The Sri Lankan Tamils, believing his word that the war had ended after his three-hour fast here for their cause, came out of hiding only to be killed,” he alleged.

He also cited ceding of Katchatheevu islet to Sri Lanka and legal efforts by Jayalalithaa to try and retrieve it. “Is speaking about such historical facts wrong?” he asked. All parties who opposed DMK over the Sri Lankan issue in 2009 were now maintaining silence as they are going to strike an alliance with the main opposition party, he said.

Panneerselvam also slammed Dhinakaran, a rival to the welfare legacy of Jayalalithaa. Notwithstanding any “mega coalition” to be propped up by the DMK and any “conspiracy,” it is the AIADMK that will emerge victorious at the future hustings, he said.