Jayalalithaa’s portrait put up in Tamil Nadu assembly, DMK says ‘convict doesn’t deserve the honour’
Charges against Jayalalithaa were abated after her death on December 5, 2016 but the court did say that the former chief minister was in league with Sasikala.india Updated: Feb 12, 2018 16:48 IST
Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu stayed away from a ceremony to unveil the portrait of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa in the assembly on Monday, saying the honour should not be extended to a person convicted of corruption.
DMK working president MK Stalin said had Jayalalithaa been alive, she would have been serving time in Bengaluru jail along with VK Sasikala.
“The DMK does not support the idea to have (her) portrait inside the assembly hall, where portraits of leading lights of Tamil Nadu have been placed,” he said.
The state government brushed aside the criticism and rushed through the ceremony, as the DMK petitioned the Madras high court, demanding the portrait be removed from the assembly.
The seven feet tall portrait shows Jayalalithaa in her trademark green sari, staring down at the Opposition benches.
With the DMK, Congress and Indian Union Muslim League boycotting the function, members of the ruling AIADMK, the party founded by Jayalalithaa, occupied the Opposition benches.
“The government should not denigrate the rich heritage and prestige of the assembly by placing a convict’s portrait in the assembly,” Stalin said.
The Supreme Court had on February 14, 2017 found Sasikala, a long-time aide of Jayalalithaa, and two others guilty of amassing wealth disproportionate to their sources of income in a 21-year-old case in which the AIADMK founder was also an accused.
Charges against Jayalalithaa were abated after her death on December 5, 2016 but the court did say that the former chief minister was in league with Sasikala.
Jayalalithaa didn’t allow Sasikala to stay at her Poes Garden residence out of humanitarian concern but to amass assets and launder her ill-gotten wealth, the court said.
“The firms and companies were operating from the residence of Jayalalithaa and it cannot be accepted that she was unaware of the same even though she feigned ignorance about the activities carried on by Sasikala,” the court has said of the companies in whose names properties were bought.
Speaker P Dhanpal unveiled the portrait in the presence of chief minister Edapaddi Palaniswami, deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam and other senior AIADMK members.
Rebel AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran, who is Sasikala’s nephew, too, stayed away.
There is nothing illegal in installing the portrait in the assembly but the opposition says it is morally wrong to “honour” a convict.
A similar controversy had broken out when a memorial was raised at Chennai’s famous Marina beach, where Jayalalithaa’s was buried.