Defending his daughter and Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi, who has been chargesheeted in the 2G spectrum allocation scam, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Wednesday praised her contribution to society and attributed her rise in the party to merit rather than her relationship to him.

Mr. Karunanidhi's address to the party's high-level committee was an emotional response to the crisis faced by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), as he backed Ms. Kanimozhi with the same zeal with which he had supported the jailed former Telecom Minister, A. Raja, and hit out at the party's detractors.

In his address, excerpts of which were released to the press, he stressed that he would not sacrifice the party's interest to protect any individual.

“I have never succumbed to any design to betray our party. And I, for one, don't believe that this movement I lead should ever bow before anybody,” he declared.

At the same time, he backed Ms. Kanimozhi to the hilt, declaring that he looked at her more as an efficient party volunteer than as his daughter.

“Nobody can say her rise is because she is my daughter,” he claimed. He cited her activities in organising job fairs in different parts of Tamil Nadu, at which 1.34 lakh people got employment, and in conducting ‘Chennai Sangamam,' a cultural show featuring the State's folk arts, to argue that she had done much for society at large.

“Jealousy”

“It is out of jealousy that many are against Ms. Kanimozhi,” Mr. Karunanidhi said.

He said she was reluctant to attend the high-level committee meeting at the DMK headquarters because hundreds of reporters and photographers were waiting outside her residence to raise questions.

“I went there personally to fetch her for this meeting. Not because I wanted to save my daughter, but because one must understand that protecting her on behalf of the party is important to ensure that the party's image is not tainted.”

The DMK leader also voiced his personal anguish by revealing that he had not visited Ms. Kanimozhi's residence for three days because she and her mother, Rajathi Ammal, were hurt deeply by the developments.