Ahead of polls, AIADMK’s loose cannons fire away

Jayalalithaa, Poes Garden, memorial, Veda Nilayam, legal heir, The Federal
The earlier AIADMK regime in Tamil Nadu had taken over the house and converted it into a memorial, without consulting Jayalalithaa’s family | File Photo: PTI

Call it new-found freedom or ill-informed diatribe – the leaders of the AIADMK have been firing on all cylinders after the death of J Jayalalithaa. The guttural rasps and the whispers, probably the sole mode of articulation for the leaders when the all-powerful Jayalalithaa was alive, have suddenly been replaced with absolute statements.

The fire-breathing leaders, who used to wilt like flowers under the gaze and groan of Jayalalithaa, are apparently leaving no stone unturned to keep the state entertained, quite humorously.

While Jayalalithaa’s phrase Gujaratin Modiya, illa Tamil Natin intha lady ah (Gujarat’s Modi or Tamil Nadu’s lady) became one of the powerful pitches for the party ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Probably taking a cue, minister KT Rajenthra Bhalaji called Prime Minister Narendra Modi the ‘daddy’ of AIADMK, in March.

“Amma’s (reference to Jayalalithaa) decisions were her own and different,” said the dairy development minister. “…currently, due to the absence of Amma, Modi is our daddy. He is our daddy. India’s daddy,” he added.


Similar statements claiming that Modi has been guiding the party has been made by other senior leaders of the party including deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam.

Panneerselvam had earlier agreed that it was Modi who orchestrated the merger of the two factions of the AIADMK. Bhalaji, who is known for making such reckless comments, said last week that the government had not implemented total prohibition in the state because ‘tipplers will develop neurological disorders and other health complications if they abruptly stopped consumption of liquor.’

In December, Tamil Nadu law minister CV Shanmugam wanted his own government to investigate the background of health secretary J Radhakrishnan stating that the IAS officer was against taking Jayalalithaa abroad for treatment. The counsel at Arumughaswamy Commission, probing the death of Jayalalithaa, went on to claim that the health secretary ‘colluded and conspired’ with the Apollo Hospitals (where the then CM was admitted) and ‘inappropriate treatment’ was provided, leading to the transfer of Radhakrishnan.

Jayalalithaa, who was hospitalised in September 2016, died in December the same year and the state’s political landscape has seen many ups and downs since then. From factional feud to the merger of the Palaniswami and Panneerselvam groups, and the sidelining of TTV Dhinakaran, the state has seen it all with doses of brazen comments from AIADMK leaders.

Some science here

While Minister for Cooperation Sellur K Raju sought to fill the Vaigai dam with thermocol in a bid to prevent loss of water by evaporation; Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, at a public rally, termed 12th century Tamil scholar Sekkizhar as the author of Ramayana (instead of Kambar, the Tamil poet).

Another minister who has constantly carried his confusion to every public meeting is forest minister Dindigul Srinivasan who claimed Manmohan Singh to be the present PM of the country. He went on to state that Rahul Gandhi is Narendra Modi’s grandson.

“The party’s new leadership (Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam) has failed to carry forward the legacy of Amma. The AIADMK has been playing second fiddle to the BJP — something that was unheard of during Jayalalithaa’s tenure,” said an outgoing AIADMK MP.

“One can’t imagine anyone making such comments, earlier. They were conscious that Amma would be watching and would take action immediately,” the leader added.