The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Thursday has reprimanded senior DMK leader Andimuthu Raja and barred him from campaigning for 48 hours besides removing him from the star campaigners list, for his allegedly demeaning anti-EPS remarks at an election rally.
Calling the remarks against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami (EPS) as “obscene” and close to “lowering the dignity of women”, the ECI has said in its order to Raja dated April 1, that it advises him to be vigilant and not make “intemperate, indecent, derogatory, obscene remarks and lower the dignity of women in future,” said Indian Express in a report.
In his interim reply to the EC’s notice, Raja meanwhile has denied that he made any statement violating the model code of conduct and neither has he made a derogatory or defamatory remark against EPS. All he did was use a simile of newborn babies to explain the growth of Stalin and Palaniswami as political leaders, he argued.
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The former union telecom minister had made this allegedly offensive comments against the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, while campaigning for DMK candidate Udhayanidhi Stalin, the son of MK Stalin at the Chepauk-Thiruvallikeni constituency.
Criticising EPS for taking on a political veteran like Stalin, Raja had said, “While Stalin was born out of a legitimate relationship and a normal delivery, Palaniswami was a premature delivery, born out of an illicit relationship.”
He also said, “Till the other day, Edappadi Palaniswami worked in vellamandi (jaggery market), how can he be a competition to Stalin?” Raja had said during an election meeting, according to NDTV. “The value of Stalin’s chappal [slippers] is more than you by one rupee. And he dares Stalin to challenge him?”
Angry AIADMK leaders filed a complaint against him with the EC, which sent Raja a notice on March 30. AIADMK cadre too launched protests against him in many places.
The DMK party leaders, including DMK MP Kanimozhi and party chief MK Stalin too were displeased with his remarks. Stalin sternly ordered party leaders not to make such statements that can be used by rival parties to score points.
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Meanwhile, Palaniswami expressed his hurt about Raja’s remarks at a campaign. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was campaigning in Dharapuram on Tuesday, too jumped into the controversy and warned people that DMK “will insult many other women of Tamil Nadu” if they return to power.
PM Modi went on to ask Congress and DMK to rein in their leaders because the people of Tamil Nadu are “noting everything.”
According to PM Modi, the people will not tolerate women of the state being insulted and the Congress and DMK have insulted the mother of Tamil Nadu CM. “If they come to power, they will insult many other women of Tamil Nadu,” Modi said at the poll rally. Home Minister Amit Shah too asked the “mothers and sisters” of the state to teach a ‘lesson’ to the DMK for their alleged anti-woman stand, in the April 6 Assembly polls in an election rally.
Raja, who refused to admit his mistake initially, however apologised, though he insisted he was misunderstood. The 57-year-old DMK leader, who is known to have impressed the late DMK supremo, M K Karunanidhi with his flair for oratory, said that Justice Saini’s four-point summary in the 2G verdict (Raja was a key accused in the 2G spectrum case) will apply here too: “Misreading, selective reading, out of context reading and non-reading.”
However, he expressed his deep sadness that Palaniswami was upset over his statements that have been “interpreted out of context”. He added that he regretted the remarks which had hurt EPS “beyond the political context”.
“I express my sincere apologies. I repeat to Palaniswami and everyone that my statement was not a personal remark about two leaders but a critique about them,” Raja said.
Raja, a former union minister in the UPA is highly respected by the DMK cadre across the state.