During the 1989 Assembly elections, Jayalalithaa, who headed an AIADMK faction, alleged that the former Chief Minister and AIADMK founder M.G. Ramachandran had been poisoned to death by his wife Janaki Ramachandran. “She mixed poison in his buttermilk and forced him to drink it. That is how we lost our beloved leader in December 1987,” she accused MGR’s widow, who led the other faction, in meeting after meeting.
The baffling charge was given a quite burial a few months later when the two factions of the AIADMK were merged and Janaki announced her retirement from politics leaving Jayalalithaa the unrivalled leader of the united AIADMK. Ever since, raking up the so called mysteries surrounding dead leaders appear to have become a fashion in the state’s politics.
Call it poetic justice when the same Jayalalithaa died in Dec 2016 after 75 days in hospital, similar suspicions about her death at the hands of Sasikala and her family surfaced. This time the charge was made by a former Sasikala loyalist O. Panneerselvam (OPS) as he revolted against her move to displace him as Chief Minister. After Sasikala went to jail OPS made peace with Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on the condition that an enquriy commission should probe the circumstances leading to Jayalalithaa’s death.
The one man Arumugaswamy enquriy commission, probing Jayalalithaa's death, is being seen an exercise to nail Sasikala and fix her political future. The issue would have remained an internal fight within the AIADMK if DMK president M.K. Stalin had not dragged Jayalalithaa’s death into the heat of the election campaign.
While accusing EPS of masterminding the burglary at Jayalalithaa’s Kodanad estate resulting in the death of a security guard, Stalin said if elected to power his government would not only probe the burglary gone wrong but also Jayalalithaa’s death since both appear to be interlinked. EPS, who had got a stay from the Madras High Court to prevent Stalin from bringing up the Kodanad murder case, was peeved that Stalin was linking it up with Jayalalithaa’s death as well.
So while campaigning in the Nilgiris Lok Sabha seat on Monday, Chief Minister EPS made the rather startling charge that Stalin had kept his father Karunanidhi under house arrest for nearly two years before his death in August 2018. “Stalin wanted his father to declare him as party president but Karunanidhi had refused preferring instead to appoint Stalin only as working president. Stalin did not relish this and kept him confined to his house for nearly two years taking advantage of the fact that Karunanidhi could not speak and voice his protest or displeasure at this treatment. As soon as Karunanidhi died, Stalin was made party president,” EPS said, promising that his government would launch a probe into the treatment meted out to Karunanidhi, a former Chief Minister, by his own son.
It became apparent that the Chief Minister was merely landing a political counter punch since his claim is not true. In fact Karunanidhi was visited by party leaders and family members even when he had lost his ability to speak and comprehend happenings around him. Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan had called on him before announcing their political entries. Even Prime Minister Modi had paid a surprise visit in spite of the DMK and BJP being on opposing sides of the political divide. So there is little to buttress EPS’ claim that Karunanidhi was confined to his house against his wishes.
EPS is merely getting his back on Stalin for repeatedly raking up the Kodanad issue, relying on the unverified claim of one of the accused that the CM was the brain behind the burglary. It only proves that in the political slugfest ahead of an election, flinging the wildest of charges against opponents comes easily to Tamil Nadu politicians.