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The late AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa was allegedly assaulted by DMK members in the state Assembly in 1989 | File photo

Jayalalithaa assault: Stalin questions Sitharaman’s statement; Palaniswami reacts

TN CM slams FM's remark; calls the 1989 incident "a drama" enacted by Jayalalithaa

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DMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin has questioned Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s statement in Parliament over the alleged attack on the late J Jayalalithaa in 1989 in the state Assembly. However, his remarks have drawn strong rebuke from AIADMK leader Edappadi K Palaniswami.

Speaking during the debate on the no-confidence motion in Lok Sabha on August 10, Sitharaman had sought to remind DMK MP Kanimozhi, following her speech on the Manipur issue, about the incident that happened on March 25, 1989 in the Tamil Nadu Assembly when the then Leader of Opposition (LoP) Jayalalithaa's saree was pulled.

“It is a very sacred sabha, the Leader of the Opposition Jayalalitha's saree was pulled in the Assembly. Her saree was pulled and the DMK members sitting there heckled her, laughed at her, and made fun of her...” she said.

“Two years later, she returned as CM of TN. The party that was in power at that time sitting in the Assembly, where Leader of Opposition's saree was being pulled, today talks of Draupadi...,” Sitharaman had added.

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Stalin, in an interview to a daily, has rubbished the Union finance minister's allegations, saying “everyone present in the Assembly knew it was a drama enacted by herself,” referring to the late Jayalalithaa.

A DMK release in Chennai quoted Stalin from the interview as saying that “Sitharaman will say something based on Whatsapp history”. “Such an incident did not happen to Jayalalithaa in the House. Everyone present in the Assembly knows it was a drama enacted by herself,” he said. Sitharaman's remarks were “regrettable”, he added.

Former AIADMK leader Su Thirunavukkarasar, now a Congress MP, had earlier said in the state Assembly that Jayalalithaa “rehearsed” for doing so, Stalin was quoted as saying.

Reacting sharply to the chief minister’s remarks, AIADMK general secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami said the events in question had been reported in detail and questioned Stalin for his statement. He said he, as an AIADMK MLA, was present in the House when Jayalalithaa was “attacked” in the presence of then chief minister, the late M Karunanidhi.

“Amma (Jayalalithaa) was Leader of Opposition then. I had the opportunity of working with her as MLA then as I was elected from Edappadi. I was in the House then. As someone who saw it I am saying this – in that House, in the presence of then CM Karunanidhi, despite being LoP, a woman, a brutal attack was launched on her,” he stated.

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Responding to reporters' query in Madurai over Stalin's remarks on the issue, the former chief minister claimed that the alleged assault on Jayalalithaa was a “planned” one. “It has been reported in detail. It happened in Karunanidhi's presence. DMK ministers and MLAs badly attacked Amma... a now senior minister pulled her saree, another (then) minister pulled her hair... it was a dark day,” he added.

“I can still recall. I was in the House. Such events were unprecedented in the history of the House; a very bad day in the history of the Assembly. No women member or LoP had faced such a situation. But today's CM (Stalin) is demeaning that. Everything had been reported in the press and media,” Palaniswami further said.

He said Jayalalithaa took a vow to return to the House as chief minster with public support and indeed won a massive mandate two years later.

(With agency inputs)

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