Top AIADMK leaders call on Modi in Delhi
AIADMK leaders Edappadi Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam, along with senior party leaders, Monday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi, at a time when the party is facing the heat from several quarters back home.
After the meeting, the leaders told reporters in New Delhi they discussed welfare measures and infrastructure for Tamil Nadu. However, party insiders said they did talk to PM Modi about the DMK government initiating a raid and filing a corruption case against former transport minister M R Vijayabhaskar last week. “They discussed the present situation in Tamil Nadu. They have discussed the raids and spoken about DMK ministers who amassed wealth and are holding a post now, and that Income Tax should look into such cases,” said a senior AIADMK leader who did not wish to be named.
The dual leadership was accompanied by former municipal administration minister SP Velumani, Panneerselvam’s son and MP O P Raveeendranath and former Lok Sabha deputy speaker M Thambidurai. The meeting went on for about 35-minutes. “We thanked Prime Minister Modi Ji for campaigning for alliance candidates in the assembly election,” Palaniwami told reporters after the meeting.
“We have urged the Prime Minister to allocate sufficient Covid-19 vaccines for Tamil Nadu.”
They also demanded that the Union government not permit Karnataka to construct the Mekedatu dam. Palaniswami reiterated how Panneerselvam, late J Jayalalithaa and himself, when they had occupied the chief minister’s chair, had urged the Centre not to clear the project. “If the dam is built the Delta districts would turn into a desert. About 14 districts are dependent on the Cauvery river for drinking water. So, we placed a demand before the Prime Minister on this. Also, to address the water scarcity in Tamil Nadu, we have asked him to implement the Godavari-Cauvery river link initiative as soon as possible.”
Palaniswami didn’t answer a question on expelled leader V K Sasikala’s opinion that there has to be a single leadership in the AIADMK. “They didn’t discuss Sasikala. She hasn’t achieved anything for us to discuss. She is just making some noise after we lost the election,” the leader quoted above said. “Even in our meetings in the party headquarters, we have not been discussing her anymore.”
It is the first time Palaniswami and Panneerselvam are meeting PM Modi together as their party grew closer to the BJP following Jayalalithaa’s death in December 2016. Panneerselvam had earlier said in 2018 that he patched up with Palaniswami on Modi’s advice.
On July 22, officials from the directorate of vigilance and anti-corruption (DVAC) raided 26 places linked to the former transport minister and seized ₹2,556,000 cash and other incriminating documents. They filed a case on a slew of charges, including disproportionate assets. It is seen as the beginning of a crackdown as one of the DMK’s election promises is to establish a special court to prosecute top AIADMK ministers including Palaniswami, Panneerselvam and Velumani on charges of corruption. The DMK, while in opposition, had submitted complaints of corruption against six AIADMK ministers to Governor Banwarilal Purohit.
The AIADMK called the raid a political vendetta. The party plans to protest across Tamil Nadu on July 28 against the DMK for not fulfilling its election promises, such as abolishing NEET and cutting fuel prices.