A portrait of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has been unveiled at the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly in Chennai. Presided over by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, Assembly speaker P Dhanapal unveiled the 7-foot portrait of the late AIADMK supremo.
State Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal unveiled the portrait in the presence of Chief Minister Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister Pannerselvam and other MLAs.
However, the main Opposition DMK and its ally the Congress boycotted the unveiling ceremony. While Congress party whip Vijayadharni did not attend the event, she later thanked the Speaker for unveiling the portrait of a woman.
According to one report in The Hindu, DMK’s Working President Stalin had said, “It is a black move and I condemn it on behalf of the DMK. Already, a petition filed by our party MLA J Anbazhagan against keeping the portrait of Jayalalithaa is pending before the court. Since the case will be taken up for hearing, the government has organised the event in a hurried manner before 9.30am.”
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May last year to be the chief guest for the unveiling. However, with no reply forthcoming, the CM decided to preside over the function himself on Monday.
Jayalalithaa who passed away in December 2016 was posthumously convicted in the Disproportionate Assets case against her, along with close aide Sasikala in February 2017.
The Supreme Court, however, abated the case against Jayalalithaa on account of her death.
Referring to Jayalalithaa who was the first accused(A1) in the case, the court observed, “However, though in the process of scrutiny of the facts and the law involved and the inextricable nexus of A1 with A2 to A4, reference to her role as well as the evidence pertaining to her had been made, she having expired meanwhile, the appeals, so far as those relate to her, stand abated.”
While there appears to be no illegality to it, the move to unveil a portrait of Jayalalithaa has divided the political class in the state over the morality of it and the precedence it would set.
Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami had earlier defended the move stating that unveiling a portrait of Jayalalithaa would be a great honour for the state assembly since the late leader was committed to the development of people's welfare in addition to being elected as CM six times.
He had also said that she was regarded as a role model by the chief ministers of other states.
DMDK chief Vijayakanth has also opposed the move along with Tamil Nadu Congress Committee(TNCC) chief S Thirunavukkarasar.
While the TNCC too has boycotted the event, party whip Vijayadharani attended the event in her personal capacity.
Jayalalithaa now joins Mahatma Gandhi, Periyar EV Ramasamy, CN Annadurai, K Kamaraj, Thiruvalluvar, BR Ambedkar, Muthuramalinga Thevar, C Rajagopalachari, Quaide Millath and her mentor MG Ramachandran as the first woman on the walls of the assembly.