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Jayalalithaa's kiss that turned out to be a miss

TN Chief Minister is in a spot over a kiss she planted on an infant at a campaign in a village near Madurai. The pro-DMK Sun TV has been showing footage to show she only kissed her own hand.
PTI | By Shekhar Iyer, Chennai
UPDATED ON MAY 01, 2004 02:16 PM IST

Kissing babies and pumping flesh is par for the course during elections. But not if it involves Jayalalithaa. The AIADMK leader and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister is in a spot over a kiss she planted on an infant in a village near Madurai.

While the AIADMK subsequently released posters showing Jayalalithaa kissing the baby, the pro-DMK Sun TV has been showing footage to show she only kissed her own hand.

The channel says the police forced photographers to shoot from a particular angle but it managed to get a shot from a different angle and got the "real" story.

DMK leaders say Jayalalithaa's apparent show of concern for poor children is a big pretence and the poster is meant to fool poor voters.

But AIADMK leaders say the DMK has run out of issues to pick on their leader and hence this controversy over whether she actually kissed the infant or not.

Jayalalithaa has been single-handedly spearheading the AIADMK campaign, travelling through villages, and mixing with crowds in some places. It was on one such occasion that she "blessed" the infant to drive home the point that she is a leader who cares for mothers and children.

It is typical of Dravidian politicians since the days of the late MG Ramachandran to "bless" newborn babies by christening them after some Tamil folk hero or heroine. Senior AIADMK and DMK leaders have also been solemnising weddings of cadres. Sometimes children more than a year old also get rechristened by the "thalaivars" (leaders).

The joke doing the rounds is that while Jayalalithaa may be courting controversy over whether she kissed a poor infant, parents of newborn babies don't even risk handing them to DMK chief M Karunanidhi for he is of such fragile health.

But DMK posters show a smiling Karunanidhi gifting a replica of Parliament to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi with steady hands.

DMK cadres say she can count on their party to make her the Prime Minister.

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