TN Assembly gets Jayalalithaa portrait, DMK calls it 'disgrace'
CHENNAI: A portrait of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in her signature green sari took prime spot inside the Tamil Nadu assembly on Monday amid strong objections by the opposition DMK and the Congress, which boycotted the event. The portrait stands alone and high in the assembly gallery, at a distance from the 10 other images of chief ministers and Tamil Nadu icons.
The DMK, objecting to the big display for a leader it says was steeped in corruption, has petitioned the Madras High court to step in and have the portrait removed. Jayalalithaa's portrait in the assembly is a "disgrace", says the party. Last year, the Chief Minister had invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to do the honours, but sources say there was no reply from the Prime Minister's Office.
The portrait's unveiling finally took place on Monday , with Chief Minister E Palaniswami, his deputy O Panneerselvam and other AIADMK leaders folding their hands before the image as a past speech of Jayalalithaa in the assembly was played out.
Jayalalithaa died in December 2016 while she was still Chief Minister and was out on bail in a corruption case. Two months after her death, the Supreme Court indicted her and made sharp observations, using terms like "ill-gotten wealth". The 1996 case involving charges that she had amassed a fortune far more than her known sources of income ended after her death.
The assembly also has portraits of other former Chief Ministers like CN Annadurai and MG Ramachandran. There are also portraits of icons like Mahatma Gandhi, BR Ambedkar, C Rajagopalachari and K Kamaraj.
"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.
After her death, the DMK demanded that Jayalalithaa's portraits be removed from government offices. Petitions were also filed in the High Court.