A speech by former Union minister and DMK Lok Sabha MP A. Raja against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and his mother has undermined the lofty plans of the DMK which has been wooing women voters of Tamil Nadu with promises of providing home maker allowance, free bus rides and cheaper LPG.
While campaigning at Chepauk-Thiruvallikeni from where Udhayanidhi Stalin is contesting, Raja had compared his leader Stalin with the chief minister and said: “While Stalin was born out of a legitimate relationship and through a normal delivery, Palaniswami was born out of an illicit relationship and through a premature delivery. And a doctor from Delhi – Prime Minister Modi – is giving a healthy certificate to this premature baby by holding his hand.”
DMK functionaries including party spokesperson A. Saravanan could be seen smiling, while Raja made the distasteful comment.
While Tamil TV channels sought to play down the incident by not playing the controversial portion of his speech, the entire speech, which has been circulated on social media, has invited angry comments and condemnation from all over, especially from women.
“Making an attempt to attack the chief minister, Raja questioned the chastity of Palaniswami’s mother, who is not alive now, which is nothing but an insult to all women. This is no way for a former minister and a sitting MP to speak about the chief minister and his late mother,” observed AIADMK’s Anna Nagar candidate Gokula Indira.
Realising that Raja had breached the “Lakshmi rekha” (comments about women) DMK’s Lok Sabha MP and women’s wing secretary Kanimozhi immediately criticized Raja for his crude comments. Only after the DMK’s IT wing raised a red flag that Raja’s speech was going viral on social media and triggering negative comments against the DMK, did party president M.K. Stalin urge party men to maintain decency and decorum in their campaign speeches.
“When actor Radha Ravi, who was in the DMK, had in passing made an uncharitable remark against actress Nayanatara he was immediately expelled from the DMK by Stalin. But here is an MP who has insulted the very womanhood of the chief minister’s mother and all Stalin does is to issue an appeal. Why doesn’t he at least suspend Raja from the party or stop him from campaigning for the DMK?’ asked Aspire Swaminathan, secretary of the AIADMK’s IT wing.
Raja’s speech provoked statewide demonstrations by AIADMK cadres who slippered his photos and burnt his effigies. On a complaint filed by the AIADMK, the Chennai police registered a complaint against Raja on charges of breaching election code, indecent speech and attempting to cause enmity between two groups. In an earlier speech, Raja had said that Palaniswami’s worth was one rupee less than the chappals’ worth worn by Stalin.
The chief minister had responded to that by saying, “Yes I am a poor farmer. I will be worth only that much compared to the leaders in the DMK who have enriched themselves through unseen corruption.”
Raja sought to wriggle out of the mess by explaining that he had only compared the political growth of Stalin and Palaniswami and how the latter had become chief minister by shortcut. “My speech has been misunderstood and what is circulating on social media is the result of a cut and paste job meant to create the impression that I have spoken ill of his birth,” explained Raja. Unfortunately, there are few takers for his explanation even in his own party.