CHENNAI: In what could take the fizz out of the spirited campaigns by opposition parties seeking prohibition in Tamil Nadu, the ruling AIADMK and critics have taunted the DMK and MDMK by highlighting the fact that family members of leaders of these parties have stakes in the tobacco and liquor businesses.
On Monday, as MDMK leader Vaiko gave a provocative call to college students to boycott classes and smash up TASMAC liquor outlets, Minister for Electricity, Prohibition and Excise Natham R Viswanathan questioned his moral locus standi to campaign against the sale of liquor as the former’s son Durai Vaiyapuri had huge stakes in the tobacco business. Durai is allegedly the distributor of the Indian Tobacco Company, the market leader in cigarettes, in his native Tirunelveli district.
“Does Vaiko know that tobacco is also a health hazard like alcohol,” Viswanathan asked in a statement even as social media was abuzz with a scanned copy of Vaiko’s election affidavit that revealed that he and his wife Renuka Devi had jointly lent over `52 lakh to a tobacco depot owned by their son.
At the time of going to press, Vaiko did not return repeated calls from Express to get his reaction to the minister’s criticism.
Likewise, online trolls attacked the DMK, which recently jumped on to the prohibition bandwagon as a poll plank, citing the fact that relatives of its former Union ministers owned distilleries.
Viswanathan too took note of this and charged that when DMK leader M Karunanidhi was chief minister, he had relaxed norms to grant permission to two former Union ministers and three of their associates to open distilleries.
BJP State president Tamilisai Soundararajan, Naam Tamilar Katchi leader Seeman and PMK founder Ramadoss had also questioned this duplicity of the DMK’s stand.