AIADMK members on Thursday staged a walkout from the Assembly protesting the remarks of Finance Minster K. Anbazhagan that the party wanted to make a leader who was seeking rest in politics as the Chief Minister of the State.

Led by their deputy leader in the House O. Panneerselvam, the AIADMK members stood on their feet, demanding expunction of the remarks.

When Speaker R. Avudaiyappan and Mr. Anbazhagan made it clear that there was no need to expunge the remarks, they left the House in protest.

Mr. Anbazhagan maintained that he was only quoting from the resolution moved by Mr. Panneerselvam himself seeking exemption for Ms. Jayalalithaa's presence in the House since doctors had advised full rest. “I am ready to withdraw my remarks if these words are not in the resolution adopted in the House,” he said.

Recalling the petition filed by her in the special court in Bangalore to dispense with her presence based on the resolution adopted in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, the Finance Minister said the AIADMK members could not curtail his freedom of speech.

“She may be a leader to you. For me she is only a member of the House,” he said.

Mr. Panneerselvam accused Mr. Anbazhagan of politicising her absence while she could not attend the House temporarily because of health reasons.

Mr. Anbazhagan responded saying his intention was not to criticise Ms. Jayalalithaa, but to give a proper answer to Mr. Panneerselvam who predicted that the AIADMK would sit in the Treasury Benches and the DMK in the Opposition Benches.

“When a person who needs rest can return as Chief Minister of the State, can't an efficient Chief Minister retain his position,” Mr. Anbazhagan asked.

Mr. Panneerselvam said Ms. Jayalalithaa had attended the House many times and performed her duty as the Leader of the Opposition, while Mr. Karunanidhi never once attended the House between 2001 and 2006.

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