The State unit of the CPI (M) on Monday said that the government owed an explanation to people on the circumstances that led to the arrest of the relatives of Sasikala, former aide to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

The party's State secretary G. Ramakrishnan said that though the parting of ways between Ms. Jayalalithaa and Ms. Sasikala was an inner-party matter, the arrests, including that of M. Natarajan, husband of Ms. Sasikala, in connection with land grabbing charges, could not be regarded as a matter concerning only the ruling party.

“They were close to the government administration and were said to have used their proximity to power to pursue their own agenda. Moreover, the sections of law under which they have been arrested clearly need an explanation from the government.” Mr. Ramakrishnan was talking to reporters in connection with the four-day State conference of the party that will begin at Nagapattinam on February 22.

He was also critical of the law and order situation in the State, saying there was no perceptible improvement even after the AIADMK assumed office last year. “The killing of Dalits in police firing in Paramakudi, custodial deaths and burglaries prove that the law and order situation has not improved.”

Asked about his party's stand on the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP), Mr. Ramakrishnan said that the government should take steps to commission it in the wake of experts' panels constituted by the Central and State governments submitting positive reports on the safety aspects.

He refused to comment on the allegation that the People's Movement against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) was funded by vested interests.

Mr. Ramakrishnan said that the failure of both the DMK and the AIADMK government in the last ten decades to implement projects for meeting the State's growing energy requirements resulted in the present crisis.

The purchase of electricity from private power plants at Rs.17 per unit and sale of this power to multi-national companies and big Indian industries at a subsidised rate of Rs 4.50 per unit was the reason behind the heavy loss incurred by TANGEDCO.

Mr. Ramkrishnan said that the 20{+t}{+h}State conference would also discuss in detail the commercialisation of both school and higher education and its impact on society, which was rampant with inequalities.

“Today, the rich are able to provide education that will ensure employment for their wards. But, 51 per cent of the landless farmers among the Dalits and 19 per cent of the BCs and MBCs are not able to meet the challenge. This has further deepened the social inequalities.”