Friday, April 8, 2011

Stop branding me as corrupt: Jayalalithaa

AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa campaiging in Tirupur on Thursday. Photo: M.Balaji
“Stop branding me as corrupt as all cases were foisted on me. I am not corrupt and it is wrong for anyone to compare me with DMK leaders,” AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa said.
She was answering a query posed by reporters whether it was right for her to criticise corruption under the DMK regime, during the election campaign as she herself faced corruption charges.
Ms. Jayalalithaa interacted for a few minutes with the reporters on the sidelines of an election campaign seeking votes for AIADMK and its alliance candidates fielded in Tirupur North, Tirupur South, Avinashi and Palladam constituencies, here on Thursday. During the campaign, Ms. Jayalalithaa said it was the failure of the DMK government to implement the court orders pertaining to pollution control norms, which eventually resulted in the closure of dyeing units in the Tirupur cluster.
“If we come to power, a compendious solution will be drafted to end the crisis encountered in the dyeing industry in Tirupur knitwear cluster by involving industrialists, farmers and other stakeholders in the plan process,” she added.
She hinted that as a permanent solution to the effluent discharge problem in the dyeing industry, marine discharge project would be expeditiously implemented.
Another promise given was that she would put pressure on the Union Government to abolish the excise duty of 10.3 per cent imposed recently on the readymade garments and made-up articles of textiles.
Ms. Jayalalithaa called upon the voters to root out the “corrupt” DMK government which had also been “family-centred” during the last five years. “The five-year DMK rule had led to severe power cuts, unemployment and corruption,” she added.


Later talking at a meeting in Gobichettipalayam, Ms. Jayalalithaa said that she fully supported social activist Anna Hazare for his campaign against corruption and for the Jan Lokpal Bill. “But it is not sufficient to have a Lokpal Bill. We also need a strong government at the Centre and a strong Prime Minister. But our current Prime Minister is weak, ineffective and silent on many issues,” she said adding that such a weak government at the Centre was dangerous not just to the economy of the nation but to its security and sovereignty.
To a question whether the DMK and Congress alliance was politically sustainable, Ms. Jayalalithaa said that she would like to reserve her comment on this till the Assembly results were out.
Asked whether she had anything to tell Mr. Karunanidhi, Ms. Jayalalithaa replied: “bad luck”.

Tamil Nadu a challenging case, says CEC

A file picture of Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi during a press meet in Kolkata. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish.
Calling Tamil Nadu a “challenging case”, the Election Commission today it cannot “close its eyes to rampant malpractices” there and rejected the charge levelled by DMK and PMK that it has imposed emergency in the State.
“Can we be faulted for discharging our Constitutional responsibilities sincerely and earnestly? Can we close our eyes to the rampant malpractices?” Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi told PTI.
He was reacting to criticism by political parties in the State “for being over restrictive and for harassment”.
The Commission has enforced stringent measures to curb use of money power in the current round of assembly elections in States, especially in Tamil Nadu, where there has been widespread attempts to bribe voters by paying them cash.
Mr. Quraishi said that through a series of steps that are “unprecedented even by our own standards” officials have seized unauthorised cash of over Rs 53 crore in cash out of which Rs 42 crore are from Tamil Nadu alone.
Brushing aside the criticism from the two parties, he said that the poll panel was “not exceeding our powers. We are within our Constitutional mandate. Any criticism is totally unfair and we dismiss it.”
DMK chief M Karunanidhi and his ally PMK founder S Ramadoss have attacked the EC saying an emergency like situation has been brought about in the State while such a situation was not prevalent in the other poll-bound States.
“Holding free and fair elections is always the top priority. We also seek to make the polls peaceful, transparent and participative.
“We are enforcing expenditure control measures in great detail in these elections to check the role of money power. Tamil Nadu has been a challenging case. But we are doing our best and will not allow any let up,” he said.

TN polls: Vaiko asks cadre to refrain from making statements

A file picture of MDMK General Secretary Vaiko. Photo: M. VedhanMDMK chief Vaiko today asked party cadre to desist from making any public statements on the Tamil Nadu Assembly election, amid reports that they were canvassing for the ruling DMK in many places across the State.

MDMK is boycotting the April 13 polls after it failed to clinch a seat-sharing deal with AIADMK, a development which had prompted DMK chief Karunanidhi to make overtures to Mr. Vaiko, who has however stood firm on his party’s decision.

“I request the party supporters to avoid making comments on election to mediapersons and reporters,” he said in a statement here.

In the last few days, MDMK workers in many parts of the State including Tirunelveli were reportedly working for the local DMK candidates and making comments against AIADMK after the party had shown the door to MDMK.

Ignoring the pleas made by various political leaders including AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa, the MDMK had gone ahead with its decision to not to participate in the elections.

MDMK, a long-term ally of AIADMK, was offered 12 seats against its demand for 21, which the lead partner was not willing to accept.

AIADMK files complaint against Stalin

DMK leader and Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin talking with a student during a tea-break of his campaign near Kumarapalayam. Photo: E. Lakshmi Narayanan.
Stung by Deputy Chief Minister M K Stalin’s reported remark about the marital status of AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa, her party today filed a complaint against him with the Election Commission demanding immediate action.
Stalin’s remark was “malicious and was beyond all limits of decency”, the complaint, filed a day after the EC issued a notice to Ms. Jayalalithaa for allegedly making personal remarks against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, said.
AIADMK Rajya Sabha member P H Manoj Pandian in a written compliant to Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer, said Mr. Stalin made “derogatory and defamatory remarks” against Ms. Jayalalithaa in Namakkal on Friday last during a campaign for the April 13 Assembly polls.
Quoting Mr. Stalin from a Tamil daily as saying that the AIADMK chief was not married and so was not interested in funding other women’s weddings, Mr. Pandian said it was “no way connected with the public activities of the leader.”
Terming the speech as a “clear violation of the Model Code of Conduct,” Mr. Pandian, who is also State Advocate Wing Secretary of AIADMK, demanded immediate action against Mr. Stalin.
AIADMK has sought two days time to reply to the EC’s notice to her. Ms. Jayalalithaa’s ally and DMDK leader Vijayakant has also been slapped with similar notice for his reported personal attacks on Mr. Karunanidhi.

IT Minister takes on AIADMK nominee who defeated her father

Alangulam: Tamil Nadu's high-profile IT Minister Poongothai, a close confidant of DMK MP Kanimozhi, is locked in an intense electoral battle with arch-rival AIADMK’s P G Rajendran, who once defeated her father and party veteran Aladi Aruna, in this rural constituency in Tirunelveli district.

 Poongothai first successfully contested from this constituency in 2006, two years after her father Aruna, a Law Minister in the 1996-2001 DMK Government, was killed allegedly by his rivals in his native place. When he was killed, Aladi Aruna was not with the DMK.

However, considering his long association with the party, DMK chief M Karunanidhi fielded Poongothai, a gynaecologist by profession, from Alangulam and made her a Minister in his Government after she emerged victorious.

A tech-savvy person, Poongothai established an Information Technology Park in Gangaikondan, enhanced the standards of schools in the area and virtually brought about an IT revolution in this constituency and town, 25 kms from Tirunelveli.

With IT Minister as its MLA, Alangulam has a website joining a select club of villages which have a website of their own.

However, people here talk about the unfulfilled promises of bringing big industries to the constituency and the dream of a head hospital for the Alangulam taluk. They also complain about the Minister spending more time in Chennai.

Poongothai says water, sanitation, developmental projects and enhancing the quality of schools and education will help her get a second term in the 234-member state Assembly.

"We have done tremendous work for the past five years in this constituency. We have build new school buildings with Information Technology facilities and many more. And, moreover, I have been getting tremendous response from people wherever I go," she told here.

But, the AIADMK camp claims there is a "huge" anti-incumbency wave against the Minister and that the poll promises by Jayalalithaa would ensure their victory.

Fishermen ransack govt office

Rameswaram: Around 100 fishermen on Thursday ransacked a Fisheries department office here protesting "inaction" on complaints of disappearance of four fishermen since April 2 even as the body of one of them was washed ashore along the Sri Lankan coast.

Assistant Director of Fisheries Markandeyan, whose office was ransacked, said the agitating fishermen barged into building, broke tables, chairs and fittings and threw the files.
They also locked the officials inside the office alleging that they had not taken action to trace the fishermen. Police rushed to the spot and released the officials and the documents strewn in the office were collected and re-arranged.

A tense situation prevailed in the town after the incident as some CPI and CPI-M workers came out in support of the fishermen, sources said.

Top police officials held talks with the fishermen, following which they dispersed later. Cases had been registered against some persons in connection with the incident, police said.

The body of Victus (42), hailing from Rameswaram, who had been missing since Saturday last, was found washed ashore at Nedunthivu along the Lankan coast yesterday, Gnanaseelan, President, Ramanathapuram Fishermen Association, said.

Gnanaseelan also alleged that more than 1,500 Indian fishermen who were fishing in 300 boats between Dhanushkodi and Katchativu were "chased away" by the Lankan Navy early this morning. The Lankan Navy had turned back on seeing the Indian Coastguard patrol, he said.

Meanwhile, Rajesh Doss, Inspector General of Police, Coastal Security, said fishermen had been advised not to cross the International Maritime Border Line.

To a question, he said the four Sri Lankan Navy personnel, who have been missing for more than ten days, have not been traced so far. All coastal villages and fishermen have been alerted and asked to inform the police if they were spotted.

Talks were being held with the Sri Lankan officials to prevent attacks on Indian fishermen, Doss said.

He said the 18 check posts that had been closed in Ramanathapuram and neighbouring districts temporarily, would function after the April 13 Assembly polls. Presently, the policemen have been deployed for election duty.