In the heavily polarised world of Tamil Nadu politics, there emerge unlikely stories that are bound to lead to raised eyebrows. One such incident happened in Vellore, just a day after Chief Minister and AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa inaugurated the Amma Unavagams.
The centre at the Beedi Workers Quarters opposite Vellore Collectorate, with Jayalalithaa’s portrait adorning it, was the last place you could have expected to see the celebration of the birthday of DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi. Yet, it did happen. On June 3, Karunanidhi’s 89th birthday, DMK’s R P E Sasikumar, the councillor for ward 20 of the Vellore Corporation, walked into the Amma Unavagam and purchased each and every token that was on sale. In all, he spent Rs 3,600 on tokens for 1,200 idlis, 300 plates of sambar rice and 300 plates of curd rice.
If the patrons standing in queue were beginning to sigh over what they thought was political high-handedness, they were in for a surprise. Sasikumar turned around and announced that the tokens would be distributed free of cost to mark his leader’s birthday. He repeated this for the next two days.
“It is very interesting that DMK partymen were celebrating Kalaignar’s birthday in an Amma Unavagam. It was a surprise to everyone who came to the canteen on the first few days,” says Shahira Banu, a local resident.
Officials of the Vellore Corporation were taken aback on hearing of the DMK councillor’s act. Vellore Corporation Commissioner P Janaki Raveendran and Mayor P Karthiyayini showcased the incident is an example for the roaring success of the Amma Unavagam in Vellore.
The incident has not been without repercussion though. The Vellore Corporation has now issued strict instructions to the self-help groups manning the canteens not to sell bulk tokens to any individual.