On Thursday, DMK’s M Karunanidhi almost broke a ‘tradition’.
In Tamil Nadu, for the past several years, neither Karunanidhi nor AIADMK’s J Jayalalithaa have been attending assembly when the other is ruling. Karunanidhi on Thursday nearly attended the assembly but ended up just signing the register and returning without entering the assembly. Chief minister O Panneerselvam had critisised him for staying away from the assembly sessions, and dared him to attend the House.
Karunanidhi had responded by saying that he would attend the session if proper seating arrangement was made in the House in view of his ill health. But when he turned up, the ninety-year-old, who is wheelchair-bound, was angry at the lack of arrangements for people like him, and returned after signing the register.
It is for the first time that the Tamil Nadu assembly is meeting after J Jayalalithaa was disqualified following her conviction in an illegal wealth case in September.
Karunanidhi told reporters it seemed the government didn’t want him to attend the assembly. “I had come to the assembly after Panneerselvam asked me to attend the session. I was expecting at least a seat but found that I could not even enter the assembly,” Karunanidhi said slamming the assembly for being the most disabled-unfriendly.
“Usually in the Rajya Sabha and other houses, there would be separate arrangements for members who are disabled. He (Panneerselvam) dared me to attend the session. Despite that there is no arrangement to ensure my entry in wheelchair,” Karunanidhi said.
J Jayalalithaa, after becoming the chief minister, had shifted the assembly back to the old Fort St George from the mammoth building built during the reign of Karunanidhi on Anna Salai, also known as Mount Road. She later turned Karunanidhi’s dream building into a multi-specialty hospital, bulldozing the opposition.