Jayalalithaa, DMDK trade barbs (Lead)

February 1st, 2012 - 9:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Feb 1 (IANS) It was all-out war in the Tamil Nadu assembly Wednesday with Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and one-time ally A. Vijayakant, chief of the DMDK, exchanging bitter words.

Vijayakant, whose party fought the April 2011 assembly elections with the AIADMK but parted ways later, and other legislators of his party were evicted from the house following the verbal duel.

While Jayalalithaa said she regretted the decision of entering into an alliance with the DMDK, Vijayakant told reporters outside the assembly: “We are not allowed to speak in the house. We will fight the ensuing by-election for Sankarankoil if polls are held under governor rule.”

Trouble had begun with DMDK member V.C. Chandhirakumar saying in the house that the government had increased bus fare and milk prices after the local body elections.

This escalated into a full blown war of words.

Jayalalithaa said it had become necessary to hike prices. Power rates, she added, were not raised by the state government but decided by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission.

She asked the DMDK whether it would contest the ensuing Sankarankoil by-election independently, like her party. Vijayakant retorted that the AIADMK had not won even one by-election during the DMK rule.

As the two leaders argued, members of their parties also got into noisy discussions, raising a din and prompting Speaker D. Jayakumar to refer the behaviour of the DMDK to the Privileges Committee.

Jayalalithaa said the decision was a lenient one and the opposition party members should have been suspended for the entire session. Openly attacking Vijayakant, she said this would happen if unqualified people reached top positions.

“The AIADMK would have won the elections even without any alliance. It is DMDK’s luck that they had aligned with us,” the chief minister said.

Speaking to IANS, DMDK legislators termed Jayalalithaa’s outburst unwarranted.

“Our members were precise and mild in their speech. We are performing the role of a constructive opposition party,” a DMDK legislator told IANS, not wanting to be named.

Chandhirakumar, DMDK’s whip in the assembly and the party’s propaganda secretary, told IANS: “Our leader had categorically said the new government should be given six months time to settle down and perform before we start criticising it. We are not like others to walk out of the house on the slightest pretext.”

Political commentator Gnani told IANS that DMDK has a chance to improve its popularity among people if it functions like a true opposition party.

While the AIADMK has a strength of 148 (excluding the speaker) in the 234-seat house, the DMDK is the second largest party with 29 members. The DMK has 23 legislators.

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