“In the eyes of the Constitution and the Election Commission, I am the Chief Minister till the election verdict is known,” said Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M. Karunanidhi.

Addressing a public rally here on Saturday, Mr. Karunanidhi said that if he got majority, he would continue to be Chief Minister, and if not, he would be sent home. But, for the past 20 days he was not going to the Secretariat as the Election Commission had imposed restrictions on him in handing over the prize money to Indian cricket team for winning the World Cup.

Mr. Karunanidhi said that after participating in the Villupuram public meeting a couple of days ago, Higher Education Minister K.Ponmudy told him that the V.I.P. guest house was out of bounds for him.

Therefore, he had to stay at the party office, Kalaignar Arivalayam. Mr. Karunanidhi recalled that in his earlier days he was accustomed to spreading a towel underneath a tree to sleep.

Later, during his journey to Cuddalore he could not stay at any of the travellers' bungalows to take his food. He could have his food only after his supporters screened his cabin with towels.

Mr Karunanidhi acknowledged the fact that during election time all leaders, including the Prime Minister, were bound by the rules.

He did not have any complaint against the top officials of the Election Commission but the behaviour of those in the lower rungs created doubts whether they were exceeding their limit.

He said that All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Jayalalithaa had the audacity to demand that the Election Commission change a police officer in his entourage as if she was already a Chief Minister.

Mr Karunanidhi recalled the shabby treatment meted out to former Chief Election Commissioner T.N.Seshan during Ms. Jayalalithaa's regime, which he duly condemned.

He introduced the alliance candidates M.R.K.Panneerselvam (Kurinjipadi), Ela.Pugazhendi (Cuddalore), Saba Rajendran (Panruti), T.Velmurugan (Neyveli), D.Ravikumar (Kattumannarkoil), Sinthanai Selvan (Thittakudi), Sridhar Vandayar (Chidambaram), T.Needhi Rajan (Vriddhachalam) and Arivuselvan (Bhuvanagiri).

Defends candidate

Speaking at a public rally held on the Manjakuppam grounds on Saturday, Mr. Karunanidhi defended fielding Ela.Pugazhendi as the DMK candidate for the Cuddalore constituency.

He said that the selection of Mr Pugazhendi caused flutters in the party. (He was making veiled reference to the disenchantment among the supporters of sitting Cuddalore MLA G.Aiyappan for not given the party ticket and subsequent suspension of the MLA).

Mr Karunanidhi appealed to the party cadres to work for the victory of Mr Pugazhendi whose father Ilamvazhuthi had served the party from his childhood.

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