Have no reason to be grateful to Jaya, says Thirunavukkarasar
Claims she instructed someone (AIADMK MLA) snatch Budget papers from M Karunanidhi and tear it in 1989
CHENNAI: Congress MP from Tiruchy Su Thirunavukkarasar who had a ring side view of the 1989 face-off between the then ruling DMK and opposition AIADMK headed by J Jayalalithaa in the state Assembly, said that he has no reason to be grateful to Jayalalithaa and it was only she who must have been loyal to her. Denying the claims made by Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Lok Sabha, Thirunavukkarasar, in this freewheeling chat with K KARTHIKEYAN, said that neither was Karunanidhi punched, nor Jayalalithaa’s saree pulled in the House in March 1989.
As deputy Leader of Opposition of the AIADMK you had a ringside view of the 1989 incident in the Assembly. Was Jayalalithaa’s saree pulled then?
•A resignation letter said to be written by Jayalalithaa was doing rounds back then. It reached even the Speaker. We don’t know why she wrote it. The letter was a topic of raging debate in politics. The Assembly was convened under such circumstances. Kalaignar had returned to power after 13 years. He was keen on presenting the budget as finance minister. Jayalalithaa convened a meeting of the party MLAs at her house the day before and instructed us to prevent Karunanidhi from reading the budget.
Did she openly instruct party MLAs to prevent Karunanidhi from reading the budget?
•Yes. She did. She instructed us that someone (AIADMK MLA) must snatch the budget from the CM (Karunanidhi) and tear it. As soon as Kalaignar rose to read, Jayalalithaa objected. Kalaignar insisted that he would read. Altercation ensued. Sloganeering from both sides continued. The CM went about reading the budget. Meanwhile, a young AIADMK MLA attempted to snatch the budget copy from Kalaignar. I don’t want to disclose the ex-MLA’s identity now. When our MLA tried to snatch it, Kalaignar resisted and turned. In the commotion, his spectacles fell down. DMK MLAs behind him thought that he was punched. Books and even a few mikes were thrown from either side. I was sitting next to her. I shielded her. Nonetheless, a book fell on her head. She sat down with her head covered with her hand. I was standing in front of her, shielding her. So did KKSSR Ramachandran. I advised her to leave. There were 150 DMK MLAs in the House. We were just 26. I took her to the car. That is true. What is not true is that neither was Kalaignar punched nor was Jaya assaulted or her saree pulled. But, many media reports said that both incidents happened.
DMK general secretary Duraimurugan was accused of assaulting Jayalalithaa then. A few years ago, he, in an interview, denied it?
•Ministers gathered around Kalaignar and sloganeered. We did that too. No one could cross over to the other side. Would we have remained spectators if Jayalalithaa’s saree was pulled or she assaulted? It didn’t happen. Duraimurugan would have come to the front row and sloganeered. No one had visible injury or shed blood. Kumari Ananthan had some dressing in his hand. That’s all. The incident was used in the 1991 poll campaign too. Now, they are reposting my old video. When our party alleged then that Jayalalithaa’s hair and saree was pulled, could I say that it did not happen. It was politics. I said whatever the political situation required then.
Sellur Raju and Jayakumar accuse you, a MGR fan, of being disloyal….
•Though I am an MP of Congress, I am a disciple of MGR. He is like god to me. I was loyal and grateful to MGR. I don’t have to be loyal or grateful to Jayalalithaa. Actually, she must have been grateful to me. Jayakumar or whoever became ministers in her cabinet later are comfortable now. But, I never got a ministerial berth or money or posts because of her. If I had not stood by her, she would not have survived in politics. Edappadi K Palaniswami was just an MLA in the Jayalalithaa camp. People, who got posts after leaders like us were expelled, don’t know history. They would not have even seen MGR.
So, it was purely political talk back then. But, Jayalalithaa expelled you on numerous circumstances….
•If she were angry with me, she would not have reinstated me thrice and restored my position as treasurer and deputy general secretary. Jayakumar was not even an MLA then. Jayalalithaa and I worked together in politics. We had our differences. Due to the influence of VK Sasikala and others, she expelled me. I never returned to the party after the expulsion in 1998. I am stating the truth now. Parties are stating their political position.
How do you respond to the accusation that you are under compulsion to defend ally DMK now, like you defended Jayalalithaa then?
•What else can they say now? Would they admit that Thirunavukkarasar is speaking the truth? Whatever I say now, I had recorded the same long ago in the Assembly. It is in Assembly records. Were they sleeping so long? People who criticise me now were not even in politics then. I don’t want to respond to them.
Are you suggesting that Nirmala Sitharaman misrepresented history in Parliament?
•Some MPs quoted Mahabaratham to draw the treasury benches’ attention to Manipur atrocities. Instead, she also quoted Mahabaratham based on what she was told.
Will you clarify it in Parliament later?
•We had walked out of the Lok Sabha then. If I were around, I would have raised it and clarified. Kathir Anand raised a point of order. It was not allowed properly by the Lok Sabha Speaker. The incident happened 35 years ago. Both Kalaignar and Jayalalithaa are not alive now. Manipur and inflation must be discussed now. I might have spoken against DMK and Kalaignar as an AIADMK leader in the distant past. In contemporary AIADMK, people who were with Jayalalithaa are calling each other traitors now.
Do you think contemporary AIADMK is heading towards an existential crisis as BJP’s ally?
•There is a difference between DMK and AIADMK. After Kalaignar’s demise, MK Stalin consolidated DMK and facilitated the party’s return to power. He is running the party and government effectively.
Now, two former CMs are calling each other traitors in AIADMK. Sasikala and TTV Dinakaran are claiming the party too. However, the party has a symbol, resources and wherewithal. Majority of the workers, as far as I know, are with EPS. Can AIADMK return to power is something that the prevailing political circumstances will decide during polls. Electoral victories are not permanent. Parties with a foundation, be it DMK or AIADMK, will not perish.
What about the BJP? Is the saffron party really growing in TN?
•BJP state president K Annamalai is claiming to be going on a yatra. But, it is a car trip. I don’t see any public support for it. Nothing will happen because of it. Is he Rahul Gandhi? Since they are in power, they will get publicity. That’s all. Annamalai might walk or roll on the floor, there is no chance of BJP growing in TN.
Why, according to you, Annamalai will not facilitate BJP’s growth in TN?
•The politics of the purely secular state is different. The soil opposes communal agenda. A state nurtured by Periyar will not accept Hindutva agenda of the RSS or BJP. Annamalai’s politics is unbecoming of a mature politician. We can understand if he criticises DMK and Congress, but will someone hit out at an ally (AIADMK) ? If BJP and AIADMK issue contradictory statements against each other regularly, how will they face the election in four months. How can such a person be a mature politician?