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Jayalalithaa’s video a day before RK Nagar bypoll triggers row

Jayalalithaa’s death, which is now being probed, left a power vacuum in the Tamil Nadu politics and soon a controversy erupted over the secrecy surrounding her condition.

india Updated: Dec 20, 2017 20:52 IST
KV Lakshmana
KV Lakshmana
Chennai, India
Jayalalithaa,Jayalalitha,Jayalalithaa death
AIADMK supporters stage a 'silent rally' to observe the first death anniversary of J Jayalalithaa at West Masi Street in Madurai on Tuesday. A purported video of Jayalalithaa has been released by one P Vetrivel, who claims to be a supporter of Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dhinakaran. HT couldn’t independently verify the authenticity of the video. (PTI)

A video said to be of late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa was released by a leader of the TTV Dinakaran camp on Wednesday, a day before a by-election to the city’s RK Nagar assembly constituency that fell vacant after the AIADMK leader’s death last December.

P Vetrivel released a 20-second video clip apparently taken by a mobile phone camera to the media purportedly showing Jayalalithaa sitting on a bed at Chennai’s Apollo Hospital and drinking something from a white plastic glass using a straw.

Dinakaran is the nephew of VK Sasikala, a close aide of the 68-year-old Jayalalithaa who took control of the AIADMK after the chief minister’s death.

“It’s false that no one met Jayalalithaa in the hospital. There’s video proof. We waited for days before releasing it but released it now as we were left with no option. The inquiry commission hasn’t summoned us yet. If it does, we’ll submit evidence to them,” news agency ANI quoted Vetrivel as saying.

Vetrivel, a disqualified MLA, dismissed suggestions that the video had anything to do with the bypolls.

“Now I have done this. Let us see what happens,” Vetrivel said when asked if his camp was apprehensive that the video was in violation of the model code of conduct.

The video, he said, was shot by Sasikala and that Dinakaran and he had its copies. Dinakaran had said in the past that he had a video clip and he would release it at an appropriate time.

Vetrivel also questioned the government for not releasing the video, a copy of which it had, and alleged that it did not submit it to the inquiry commission.

The Election Commission took note almost immediately and television news channels reported action might be taken against Vetrivel. Tamil Nadu’s chief electoral officer Rajesh Lakhoni told reporters that the television channels have been asked to immediately stop airing the clip.

The AIADMK too upped the ante against the Dinakaran faction for releasing the video.

“The model code of conduct is instated now, therefore we expect the Election Commission to take immediate action against P Vetrivel,” AIADMK’s D Jayakumar was quoted as saying by ANI.

“It is with the intention of influencing RK Nagar bypoll that the video has been purposefully released. Why it was not released earlier, why one day before polls?” Jayakumar asked.

Jayalalithaa’s death, which is now being probed, left a power vacuum in the southern state and soon a controversy erupted over the secrecy surrounding her condition. Rival factions of Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK sparred and political leaders made contradictory statements.

There were allegations of foul play and fingers were pointed at Sasikala, who is in jail in connection with a corruption case.

KS Gita, one of Jayalalithaa’s friends, told a private television channel that “it seems like a fabricated video and was released with a view to garner votes in the by-election tomorrow.”

Gita, who had filed a complaint that Jayalalithaa was murdered, questioned why was not the video released before to convince the people. The video could have been morphed and its date is missing, she said.

“I have never seen Gita at all. Who is she?” CR Saraswathi, the Dinakaran camp’s spokesperson, asked.

A leader of the EPS-OPS camp dismissed the video as a gimmick on the eve of elections and said the people will not accept it at all. VCK leader Thol Thirumavalavan, on the other hand, alleged that it was quite possible for voters to get emotional while voting in the RK Nagar bypoll.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Tamil Nadu unit chief Tamilisai Soundarrajan questioned the timing of the release of the video. She said it was an utter insult to the departed leader and added that by releasing the video, they have also violated the confidentiality clause and secrecy of a patient, which is sacrosanct.

“I leave it for the people to judge whether it was a proper thing to do,” she said.

Political analyst Sumanth C Raman said the video, in itself, does not say anything other than the fact that it was taken at the general ward after Jayalalithaa was shifted from the intensive care unit of the Apollo Hospital.

This does not say anything or answer the many questions that arose after the death of Jayalalithaa, he added.

However, this is the first time that any pictorial evidence of Amma, as she was popularly known, in the hospital has come out, even if deliberately released by Dinakaran camp.

DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi had questioned and asked for photographic evidence of Jayalalithaa when she was undergoing treatment at the hospital as well as a white paper on her health condition.

Dinakaran, who fell out of favour with chief minister K Palaniswami and lost the battle for the party’s ‘Two Leaves’ symbol, is fighting as an independent and has expressed confidence that he can spring a surprise against the AIADMK’s E Madhusudhanan as well as the opposition DMK.

Palaniswami and his deputy O Pannerselvam have urged voters to elect AIADMK candidate Madhusudhnanan.

The RK Nagar bypoll was earlier scheduled on April 12 but was cancelled following allegations that large sums of money were distributed among voters.

The counting of votes will be held on December 24.

First Published: Dec 20, 2017 11:37 IST

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