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Jaya–Jaitley meet stirs hornet’s nest, TN Opp parties cry foul

Finance minister Arun Jaitley and AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa’s meeting on Sunday stirred a hornet’s nest, as political parties in Tamil Nadu, including Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and National Democratic Alliance (NDA) ally Paattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), on Monday questioned its propriety at a time when an appeal against her conviction in an assets case is pending in the Karnataka High Court.

Jaitley was the first BJP leader to meet Jayalalithaa after her release on bail. BJP leaders, including Jaitley, Amit shah and L K Advani, were in Chennai on Sunday to attend the wedding of RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy’s daughter.

The DMK, Congress and the BJP ally PMK criticized Jaitley for meeting a ‘convict’ in a corruption case. DMK chief M Karunanidhi wondered if it was proper for a Union minister to meet a convicted person. Karunanidhi said he was reminded of the saying “the cat is out of the bag.” He slammed the comment that it was a “courtesy call” and quoted a Tamil proverb to ask if there was any difference between such a comment and a plain lie.

Citing news reports that the meeting had taken place with the concurrence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Karunanidhi sought to know If Modi too was a party to all these things.

Recalling Jayalalithaa’s meeting with Jaitley after the BJP came to power at the Centre, his visit on Sunday and withdrawal of prosecution by tax authorities after allowing a plea by her to compound offences relating to non-filing of IT returns for a particular period, he asked, “Will this not lead to suspicion among people when they link such happenings?”

Meanwhile, Karunanidhi’s son and DMK treasurer M K Stalin wrote on his Facebook page: “Is this what they promised to the people of India when they said they will give a clean and corrupt-free government? What next? Will the entire central government work towards getting her acquitted in the corruption case in the Karnataka HC?”

Stalin said, “For the first time in the history of a democratic nation we have seen the finance minister of a country going to the house of a person convicted for corruption.”

“Calling it a disgrace would be understating the issue. Is there any integrity left in the Union government headed by the BJP,” he asked.

Tamil Nadu Congress Committee chief EVKS Elangovan said Jayalalithaa had surrendered to the BJP for personal gains. He alleged her of betraying the interests of Tamil Nadu.

Elangovan questioned Jaitley’s meeting with Jayalalithaa after her conviction in the disproportionate assets case and at a time when her appeal was being heard by the Karnataka high court.

He criticized Jayalalithaa for her “opportunistic” politics and wanted to know why she was supporting the BJP in Parliament when she had been earlier opposed to them. He alleged that the income tax case against her was settled with the help of the BJP.

PMK leader S Ramadoss said Jaitley would have avoided the meeting with Jayalalithaa. “Why should a Union minister meet a convicted person? It is highly condemnable. It gives rise to suspicion...Centre should explain,” he told reporters in Salem.

Meanwhile, at a CII-organized programme in Chennai on Monday, Jaitley ducked questions over his meeting with Jayalalithaa.

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