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Amid Opposition boycott, Jaya's portrait unveiled in TN Assembly hall

12 February 2018

The affair of unveiling a portrait of former Tamil Nadu chief Minister J Jayalalithaa inside the state Assembly split the political spectrum along lines of propriety, with the ruling AIADMK faction hailing the leader as a "powerful figure in politics", and arch-rival DMK condemning it for celebrating someone convicted of amassing wealth beyond known sources of income.

In this evolving scenario, the big question is, "Will you oppose Jayalalithaa's portrait in Tamil Nadu Assembly?"

Speaker P Dhanpal unveiled the portrait in the presence of chief minister Edapaddi Palaniswami, deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam and other senior AIADMK members.

However, the main Opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Congress did not attend the ceremony. However, Congress party whip Vijayadharni was present at the event.

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DMK Working President M K Stalin termed tomorrow as a "black day" in the history of the Assembly and informed the reporters that his party would not take part in the programme.

DMK petitions Speaker: DMK legislator J. Anbazhagan who petitioned the Assembly secretariat against the move said Jayalalithaa's portrait in the Assembly hall would be a mockery of democracy, as she was a convict in a corruption case. In fact, Palaniswami wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi a year ago to invite him to grace the Monday's occasion. However, with no reply forthcoming, the CM chose to preside over the function himself on Monday.

In February 2017, just two months after her death, the Supreme Court indicted Jayalalithaa and others in the disproportionate assets case.

The Tamil Nadu government, meanwhile, defended its move to unveil Jayalalithaa's portrait, highlighting her "landmark" initiatives, including specific steps for women's empowerment.

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He said Jayalalithaa had implemented welfare measures for people that were dreamt of by leaders like Periyar (rationalist leader E V Ramasamy) and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister C N Annadurai.

In this unique context of apparent crime and ultimate conviction, any undue glorifying of a convicted person (case abated just because she had died) will only set a very bad precedent as the late chief minister was convicted in the case.

"The government should not denigrate the rich heritage and prestige of the assembly by placing a convict's portrait in the assembly", Stalin said.

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Amid Opposition boycott, Jaya's portrait unveiled in TN Assembly hall