Special Correspondent

Accused of making comments against two Ministers, an MLA

“Prima facie breach of privilege”

Sengottaiyan denies charge

CHENNAI: Speaker R.Avudaiappan referred to the Committee on Privileges a complaint preferred against AIADMK Whip K.A. Sengottaiyan relating to comments he made against two Ministers and an MLA in a statement outside the Assembly.

Public Works Minister Durai Murugan raised the issue during zero hour and said Mr.Sengottaiyan had prima facie committed an act of breach of privilege when he made certain comments against Valparai MLA Kovai Thangam, Electricity Minister Arcot N.Veeraswami and Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.

Mr. Durai Murugan said that while participating in a debate, Mr. Thangam had merely asked if the minimum wages were being followed in the Kodanadu estate [partly owned by AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa]. The AIADMK members had objected to this in the House. If they had anything to say on the issue, they should have spoken in the House. The issue was being discussed in the House and members had the chance to speak about it, but Mr.Sengottaiyan chose to issue a statement that spoke ill of Mr.Thangam and Ministers outside the House. “Is this keeping in line with the tradition of the House,” he asked and said that the Speaker had to protect the rights and privileges of the members.

Replying to the charge, Mr.Sengottaiyan asserted that there was nothing wrong in what he had done. He alleged that the Speaker did not give the Opposition enough opportunity to speak in the House.

In any case, action had been taken on many critical issues, such as the Hogenakkal water supply issue, outside the House even when the Assembly was in session, he said.

In a statement issued later, Mr. Karunanidhi said that instead of replying to the question posed by Mr. Thangam, Mr. Sengottaiyan was challenging him for no reason. “I do not want to reply to him,” Mr. Karunanidhi said, adding that the adverse comments made by the Madras High Court on an anticipatory bail petition filed by Mr. Sengottaiyan in 1996 were an attestation to what kind of a person he was.

Mr. Karunanidhi said Mr.Sengottaiyan had insinuated that he had bought an estate. “As far as I am concerned, I live in the same house now that I lived earlier before I became Chief Minister. I have not bought any estate,” he said.