The government will make all efforts, including formation of a committee, to safeguard the interests of the Tamil weekly, ‘Kumudam,' Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi told the Assembly on Monday.
Replying to a special call attention motion given by two Congress legislators on the dispute between P. Varadarajan, Chairman and Managing Director of the Kumudam Publications Private Limited, and Jawahar A. Palaniappan, Director of the company, the Chief Minister said that though, at times, the journal carried cartoons and views critical of his party - Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) - he was such a person who would appreciate them and not the one who would get agitated.
There should be no action through the Police department before a compromise emerged, after examining different aspects of the dispute as to whether the matter concerned shareholders or it was between the management and workers.
Referring to the charges levelled by Dr. Palaniappan against Mr. Varadarajan, the Chief Minister said that even though the government had the right to withdraw a case, it would not be proper for the government to direct the court how to go about the process. On whichever side – Mr. Varadarajan or Dr. Jawahar Palaniappan – lay justice, a committee would be formed to find an amicable solution, for which the government would take all steps.
The dispute, the Chief Minister said, had arisen out of Dr. Jawahar Palaniappan, who returned to the State after living abroad, seeking some explanations from the person to whom he had handed over the charge of managing the weekly. The charges, if found true, were serious. This was why the police, acting on the complaint, had arrested Mr. Varadarajan for investigation.
He said that when he came to know the arrest of Mr. Varadarajan, he advised the government lawyers not to insist on remanding him to custody even though there was no scope in the law for Mr. Varadarajan's immediate release.
Explaining his party's approach towards the media, he said the DMK, while in power or out of power, was never inclined to oppressing the press or filing cases against it or arresting journalists or hauling them up before the Assembly [for the breach of privilege]. When actions were taken against the press, the party had always been eager to condemn them and had intervened in rendering justice to journalists.
Mr. Karunanidhi recalled how he helped a leading daily in overcoming a labour dispute [when C.N. Annadurai was Chief Minister] and in resolving unpleasantness among proprietors of the paper though the daily, he said, was a critic of the party.