CHENNAI: The State Assembly this past week saw an unusual camaraderie between arch-rivals, DMK and AIADMK. Senior AIADMK leaders showered praise on DMK leaders, unimaginable when the late party supremo J Jayalalithaa was alive. Even when criticising treasury benches, Opposition members were measured in speech and tone.
This despite ruling party members raising serious allegations against the previous AIADMK regime throughout the week. The former AIADMK ministers either let the charges go unchallenged or recorded a meek response.
Most surprising was AIADMK coordinator O Panneerselvam’s praise of the late DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi and DMK minister Duraimurugan. AIADMK cadre does not mind the praise of Karunanidhi, but a few are unable to digest Panneerselvam’s words about Duraimurugan, who celebrated 50 years as a legislator.
“Amma (Jayalalithaa) accused Duraimurugan of dragging her by her saree and tearing it in the infamous incident in the Assembly in 1989. Now our leader Panneerselvam says Duraimurugan is a role model for other members of the house. How can the AIADMK cadre stomach this?” wondered a senior AIADMK functionary.
The conduct of the AIADMK was a 180-degree turn from the end of the previous week. On August 18, Opposition leader Edappadi K Palaniswami led a walk out from the house, accusing the DMK government of trying to frame him in the Kodanad case. Palaniswami’s byte to reporters that day was aggressive with the former chief minister launching a direct attack on the DMK. He alleged links between the DMK men and the accused persons in the murder case.
Yet when AIADMK MLAs returned to the House on Monday, after two days of boycott, much was different. For instance, DMK MLA I Paranthamen moved a motion on the poor quality of construction of the KP Park tenements built during the AIADMK regime and sought criminal action against the then minister of the portfolio (Panneerselvam). AIADMK members neither opposed nor denied the charges.
Later, Chief Minister M K Stalin accused the AIADMK regime of ruining the Anna Centenary Library, a pet project of Karunanidhi when he was CM between 2006 and 2011. AIADMK’s former school education minister KA Sengottaiyan responded by mentioning how impressed he was by the construction and collection of books in the library. Sengottaiyan said the AIADMK government had launched the Kalvi TV channel from the library.
At one point, former minister SP Velumani, who was the subject of recent vigilance department raids, conceded that although the DMK had made 505 poll promises, all could not be fulfilled immediately.
The change in approach has not gone unnoticed by party cadre. “When then general secretary VK Sasikala wanted to remove Panneerselvam from the CM post in February 2017, one of the reasons she cited was how Panneerselvam often seemed friendly towards Stalin, gesturing to him with a smile.” The changes are clearly too much for some of the AIADMK cadre to miss.