K Annamalai, Edappadi K Palaniswami
Chennai: The bickering between allies AIADMK and BJP in Tamil Nadu over late Dravidian stalwart CN Annadurai peaked on Monday with the regional party snapping ties with the saffron organisation, saying it cannot tolerate any affront to the late Chief Minister and its other leaders.
The party trained its guns against BJP TN president K Annamalai, saying he was only keen to "promote" himself and was therefore targeting late Dravidian stalwarts Annadurai, fondly addressed as Anna (elder brother), EV Ramasamy Periyar and late AIADMK veterans MG Ramachandran (MGR) and J Jayalalithaa.
Responding, the BJP said the Dravidian party "has a problem," with its growth as well as the growing stature of a young leader like Annamalai.
The development came days after AIADMK General Secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami met BJP veteran and Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi.
Senior AIADMK leader D Jayakumar, lashing out at Annamalai for his criticism of Annadurai, said his party workers will not tolerate any insult to the late CM.
While Annamalai had made critical remarks about AIADMK leaders including the late J Jayalalithaa in the past, the party had sought that the former be restrained.
"Annamalai doesn't desire an alliance with AIADMK although BJP workers want it. Should we tolerate all this criticism of our leaders? Why should we carry you? BJP can't set foot here. Your votebank is known. You are known because of us," the former minister told reporters here while lashing out at the BJP and its state unit president.
"We can't tolerate anymore (the criticism of leaders). As far as the alliance is concerned, it is not there. BJP is not with AIADMK. (the matter) can be decided only during the election. This is our stand," he said.
Asked if this was his personal opinion, Jayakumar asked, "have I ever spoken to you in that capacity. I only talk what the party decides."
A tall leader, Annadurai founded the DMK in 1949 and in 1967 heralded Tamil Nadu's first non-Congress government post-independence and is respected across party lines.
MGR, who founded the AIADMK in 1972, named it the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, as he had great reverence for Annadurai.
Jayakumar said Anna was a respected scholar who ushered in TN's growth and that "we revere him.
"Our party has his (Annadurai) name. To promote himself, he belittles Periyar. He didn't budge even after condemnation. It is against coalition dharma; no AIADMK worker will accept this. Annamalai is unfit to be a leader and he is keen only about promoting him. What right have you got to talk about Periyar, EPS (Palaniswami), Amma (Jayalalithaa) and MGR. AIADMK workers will never accept this," Jayakumar added.
"He is arrogant. Alliance (between the two) is not there, can be decided only during election. Suddenly he speaks about our leaders-- how can we accept criticism of leaders. If he is not budging even after (AIADMK) taking up with (BJP) high command, then it means such things are happening with their knowledge," he said.
The AIADMK had nothing to lose over the alliance-related development. "They are the losers," he said about the BJP. He repeatedly claimed the BJP and Annamalai will fare badly electorally without the AIADMK.
He warned that if Annamalai doesn't cease from targeting such tall leaders, he will be given a fitting reply.
Responding to the matter, Amar Prasad Reddy, close aide of Annamalai, said the AIADMK was unable to stand the growing popularity of the BJP and its state chief, and therefore made such an announcement.
"Annamalai is a principled politician, he cannot bend for corruption or wrong policies. He was only referring to some historical event," regarding Annadurai, Reddy, BJP State President, Sports and Skill Development Cell, told PTI.
Annamalai also spoke highly of Annadurai, he added.
"They don't like BJP's growth and recognition and the youths' response to Annamalai. Probably this is the era where we are moving from a fake Dravidian ideology to a nationalist one," Reddy added.
BJP is getting very strong roots and "they are unable to digest a 38-year-old guy creating a huge impact," with his "En Mann, En Makkal" padayatra (foot march), he said.
"We won't retract any of Annamalai's statement as they are factual," Reddy asserted.
AIADMK and BJP have been sparring over the last few days over Annamalai's criticism of Annadurai.
On September 11, leading a demonstration against Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Minister P K Sekar Babu for his participation in the 'Sanatana Dharma' eradication conference here, Annamalai had made a comment on Annadurai.
The BJP leader said Anna had in the 1950s made a critical remark in Madurai against the Hindu faith at an event, and that it was staunchly opposed by freedom fighter Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar.
Senior AIADMK leader and former minister C Ve Shanmugam had earlier said there is no basis or proof for what Annamalai has claimed and that the BJP leader has no locus standi to comment on Anna.
Former ministers and AIADMK leaders Jayakumar and Sellur K Raju also had strongly opposed Annamalai's remark. It was against civility to speak ill of departed leaders, they had said.
Speaking to reporters in Coimbatore on Sunday, Annamalai asked if what he had said about Anna was wrong. He asserted that he is in politics to protect Sanatana Dharma and Tamil culture.
He insisted that he did not speak ill of Anna and had only mentioned an event from the pages of history and the manner in which Muthuramalinga Thevar had defended Sanatana Dharma.
To substantiate his claim, the BJP leader said, he had copies of news reports that appeared in the month of June in 1956 in a top national English daily.
Shanmugam had said as Annamalai had criticised the Dravidian icon even while the AIADMK and BJP were in alliance, it led to a suspicion that he may have an ulterior motive, and wondered whether the BJP leader, by "joining hands with the DMK," does not want the NDA to win the Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu.
Tamil Nadu has 39 Lok Sabha seats while neighbouring Puducherry has one. PTI