Moments before School Education Minister started his reply to the demand for grants for his department, Leader of Opposition Edappadi K Palaniswami told the House that they had urged the government to allow Jayalalithaa University to continue, but the government has refused to pay heed. Then AIADMK members led by Palaniswami walked out of the House despite requests from Speaker M Appavu to remain.
It all started when former higher education minister and AIADMK MLA from Palacode KP Anbalagan, participating in the debate on demand for grants for the education department, asked the government not to merge Jayalalithaa University with Annamalai University.
Intervening during the debate, Higher Education Minister K Ponmudi justifying the decision to repeal the Jayalalithaa University Act 2021, quoted a 2021 circular of the previous AIADMK regime and said, “Opening more universities will not improve the quality of higher education. Even if it’s one university of high standard, quality education could be offered to student.”
“I don’t say this. This was said in your Amma regime. You had issued a circular. We have no intention to change names. A JJ university exists in Nagapattinam and a musical university in Chennai. We only want to provide top quality education to students. Merging the colleges in the four districts with a century old Annamalai University would only be good for students’ future,” he said in the Assembly.
‘No political animosity’
Speaking on behalf of his cabinet colleague, Chief Minister MK Stalin asked the AIADMK MLA to accept the Minister’s reply and said, “If there was animosity, Amma canteens would not exist (continued). Forget the animosity.”
Later, replying to the debate for grants for his department, School Education Minister Mahesh Poyyamozhi recalled how Stalin had asked him to distribute lakhs of bags bearing former AIADMK CM’s images to students to save money. “There were about 63 lakh school bags bearing images of the former chief minister. We considered covering them with stickers or replacing the bags. We told the Chief Minister that it would cost them additional Rs 13 crore to do it. The CM advised us to distribute the same bags and use the Rs 13 crore for some other scheme for school students,” the Minister added. “You are blaming us for political animosity. We do not play with the lives of students,” he remarked.