AIADMK inaugurated a memorial in honour of the late Tamil Nadu chief minister, J Jayalalithaa, today at Marina Beach, almost a month ahead of the matriarch’s 73rd birth anniversary. The AIADMK’s allies, however, distanced themselves from the inaugural function.
The phoenix-themed memorial is located near AIADMK’s founder, MGR’s memorial.
The top leaders of the party said that the mythical bird, the phoenix, was chosen as a theme since it symbolises Jayalalithaa’s resilient nature. It was a salute to her capacity to withstand and overcome all the obstacles she had to face during her tenure as Tamil Nadu’s chief minister.
Following the demise of Jayalalithaa in December 2016, the Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) government had announced in 2017 that a memorial would be built for her.
Dr S Ramadoss, founder of PMK, one of AIADMK’s important allies, opposed the decision and issued a statement saying that the memorial would be seen as a ‘symbol of corruption’.
“When the announcement was made, Jayalalithaa was not convicted. She passed away before the final judgement arrived. If she were alive, she would have been convicted. Even though she has passed away, she is still a convict. That’s why we are demanding to remove her photos from government offices and her name from government schemes,” he had said.
This statement is being circulated on social media to coincide with the inaugural ceremony, even as the PMK demands 20 percent reservation for Vanniyars.
When asked the reason behind the absence of their allies in the ceremony, one of the party spokespersons, Kuralar Gopinathan replied that they were not invited separately.
“We have not invited any party. We had just given them a general invitation through the media to take part in this function,” he said.
Thousands of cadres thronged to witness the ceremony. The party functionaries in every district had made arrangements to bring the cadres to the ceremony and traffic was diverted in the city for that purpose. The minister for cooperation department, Sellur K Raju, had even gone an extra mile to bring nearly 1,500 cadres and their families in a train from Madurai to Chennai, to attend the function.
Though, it seemed as if all the party members had taken part in this opening ceremony, there was anger brewing in the deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam’s (OPS)camp. This was because the party coordinator’s photograph was not used in the ceremony invitations and newspaper advertisements.
“This is election time and people are trying to get a chance to stir up trouble in the party. There is no ulterior motive in not using OPS’s image. The chief minister has clarified that there is no conflict between them,” Gopinathan quickly pointed out.
Incidentally, the inauguration of the memorial coincided with the release of V Sasikala, the close aide of Jayalalithaa, from prison.
And, the AMMK chief took the opportunity to mock the ruling party. “Both EPS and OPS are also celebrating Chinnamma’s release by inaugurating the Amma memorial,” AMMK chief TTV Dhinakaran told the media in Bengaluru.
Countering this taunt, Gopinathan said that the inaugural ceremony’s date had been decided earlier and it was sheer coincidence that it was held on the same day of her release.
Interestingly, the AIADMK has removed a party functionary in Tirunelveli, Subramania Raja, for plastering posters welcoming Sasikala from the prison.
Meanwhile, with an eye on the elections, EPS tried to score points with the DMK. During the function, taking a jibe at DMK chief MK Stalin, EPS said that the former tried to stop the government from building the memorial by filing court cases, using his benamis.
At the same time, however, he had come to them asking for space to build a memorial for his late father M K Karunanidhi. “When we denied the request, he withdrew all the cases against us,” he said.