Tamil Nadu Assembly Gets Jayalalithaa Portrait, DMK Calls It “Disgrace”

Published on Feb 12 2018 - - India - -

CHENNAI: A portrait of J Jayalalithaa took prime spot inside the Tamil Nadu assembly today amid strong objections by the opposition DMK and the Congress, which boycotted the event. Jayalalithaa’s portrait has been put up in the assembly gallery and stands apart from the 10 other images inside the assembly, of chief ministers and Tamil Nadu icons.

A part of a speech delivered by Jayalalithaa in the assembly was played out in the hall that was decked with flowers.

Chief Minister E Palaniswami, his deputy O Panneerselvam, other AIADMK leaders, police and officials were present for the unveiling of the portrait. Last year, the Chief Minister had invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to do the honours, saying, in a letter, that Jayalalithaa had made significant contributions to Tamil Nadu. Sources say there was no reply from the Prime Minister’s Office.

The portrait of the former Chief Minister in the assembly is a “disgrace” as she was convicted of corruption, says the DMK.

Jayalalithaa died in December 2016 while she was still Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. She had been out on bail in a corruption case. Two months after her death, the Supreme Court indicted her and made sharp observations against her, using terms like “ill-gotten wealth”. The 1996 case, based on charges that she had amassed a fortune far more than her known sources of income, ended after her death.

The assembly has portraits of other former Chief Ministers like CN Annadurai and MG Ramachandran, Jayalalithaa’s mentor and the founder of the ruling AIADMK. There are also portraits of Mahatma Gandhi, BR Ambedkar, C Rajagopalachari and K Kamaraj besides Tamil icons.

“Jayalalithaa’s portrait will add to the assembly’s prestige,” said a leader of the AIADMK. The party’s leaders have been known to take their unswerving devotion to the former Chief Minister – or “Amma” – to unusual extremes. In her lifetime, several leaders carried photos of her and her portrait was placed prominently in cabinet meetings held in her absence.

Amid turmoil within the AIADMK in the months after her death, the DMK demanded that Jayalalithaa’s portraits be removed from government offices. Petitions were also filed in the Madras High Court against her portraits in government offices

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