Says the DMK chief should make up his mind on accepting her challenge and announce it publicly “lest he himself accepts that he had betrayed” the people

AIADMK general secretary and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Tuesday accepted the challenge by DMK president M. Karunanidhi for an open debate on the Cauvery issue, saying she was prepared to face him in the State Assembly.

Repeatedly charging Mr. Karunanidhi with betraying the State on the emotive inter-State river water-sharing dispute with Karnataka, Ms. Jayalalalithaa said the DMK patriarch should make up his mind on accepting her challenge and announce it publicly “lest he himself accepts that he had betrayed” the people.

Addressing an election rally in Arani, she recalled that Mr. Karunanidhi had in a recent public meeting at Tiruvarur asked if the two could debate the issue in the Assembly.

“I accept Karunanidhi’s challenge. I am ready to discuss the Cauvery issue in the next assembly session to be convened after the Lok Sabha elections. I am ready to list out Karunanidhi’s betrayals,” she said.

The Chief Minister laid down a condition that only Mr. Karunanidhi should face her and not his trusted deputy Duraimurugan or some other representative.

“Is Karunanidhi ready to accept this? Is he ready to come to the Assembly? Is he ready to debate with me directly? He should declare whether he accepts this or not. Or else it would amount to him admitting that it is true that betrayals were done (by him),” she said.

The “betrayals” of the Karunanidhi government included allowing Karnataka to construct dams across the river besides not taking steps for publishing the final award of the Cauvery Tribunal in the Central gazette, she charged.

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