The “presence” of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa in the form of her portraits adorning all state government floats at the Republic Day parade in Chennai kicked up a huge controversy on Monday.
The Congress and DMK sought action against the state government for displaying photographs of a convict at an official function. While Jayalalithaa’s portraits were given prominence on the floats, chief minister O Pannerselvam’s pictures were missing, evoking sharp criticism from opposition parties.
The parade, telecast live on Doordarshan, was beamed across the state as is the normal practice. Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) president EVKS Elangovan demanded strict action from the Central government.
Elangovan told reporters: "The Central government should take action on this. I don't know how is it fair to display the portrait of a person in government functions, who has been convicted, sentenced and then given a bail by a court."
Elangovan then criticized the Centre, adding that the Congress did not have faith in the Narendra Modi government, claiming the inaction only strengthened suspicion over the recent meeting between Jaitley and Jayalalithaa.
DMK too came out very strongly against the display of Jayalalithaa’s photographs and said that the state government had lost its right to govern. “Tamil Nadu government should apologise to people for this insulting portrayal of state,” DMK treasurer and senior leader MK Stalin said.
“It is an utterly distasteful display of sycophancy and is sickening to watch,” Stalin said in a hard-hitting statement.
Incidentally, the DMK had also hit out against the Jaitley-Jayalalithaa meeting, questioning the propriety of a Union minister meeting a convicted person.
Jayalalithaa was disqualified as an MLA and had to quit office following her conviction in a corruption case where she was sentenced to four years in prison. She spent nearly a month in Bangalore’s Central Jail till the Supreme Court granted her bail. She has challenged her trial court conviction in the Karnataka High Court.