Chennai: By this time tomorrow, the bitterly-fought Lok Sabha elections and by-polls to 22 Assembly seats in Tamilnadu might become a memory, if not history. But, they will be remembered for long for digging the past and stirring controversies over late leaders.
Topping the list is the one stoked by Kamal Haasan. The Makkal Needhi Maiam founder-president, while campaigning at Aravakurichi, had said the “first extremist of Independent India was a Hindu”, referring to Nathuram Godse who killed Mahatma Gandhi.
He went on to add: “I am not saying this because this is a Muslim-dominated area, but I am saying this before a statue of Gandhi. Free India’s first extremist was a Hindu, his name is Nathuram Godse. There it (terrorism, apparently) starts.”
Stating that he was there “seeking answers for that murder”, referring to Gandhi’s assassination in 1948, the actor-politician added: “Good Indians desire equality and want the three colours in the tricolour to remain intact. I am a good Indian, will proudly proclaim that.”
His comments drew condemnation from the BJP, AIADMK and Hindu outfits. As cases were filed against him across the country, Kamal approached the High Court for anticipatory bail and got one too.
Recently, when the Supreme Court dismissed pleas of families of those killed along with former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, objecting to the Tamilnadu government’s 2014 decision to release seven convicts in the case, Opposition leaders demanded Governor Banwarilal Purohit and the State government ensure their release. Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Deputy CM O Panneerselvam played it safe, by saying the “government will continue to urge for the release of the convicts”.
Almost wherever he campaigned, DMK president M K Stalin made the death of AIADMK supremo and former chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s an election issue, and said his party, after coming to power, would order a thorough investigation into it.
And, Palaniswami came up with a smart reply to Stalin, when he expressed doubts over the death of DMK chief Karunanidhi and said a probe would be ordered into it.
Says A M Pathy, a political observer, “Invoking late leaders is a tradition in Tamilnadu. Karunanidhi’s speeches never ended without the mention of Periyar and Anna. Jayalalithaa used to say ‘Anna naamam vazhga, MGR naamam vazhga’. Now, their successors are carrying forward the legacy.”