: References to the Nutritious Noon Meal Programme and the Tamil Eelam Supporters’ Organisation (TESO)’s seminar in Delhi last month provided yet another opportunity to the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on Wednesday in the Assembly to corner each other.

Participating in the debate on the demands for grants of the departments of Social Welfare, Nutritious Meal Programme and Welfare of Differently Abled Persons, DMK member from Padmanabhapuram constituency Pushpa Leela Alban spoke of how her party president, M. Karunanidhi, while in power, improved the Nutritious Meal Programme. Social Welfare Minister B. Valarmathi responded how Mr Karunanidhi [who was then in the Opposition] was critical of the move at the time of the launch of the Programme [in 1982]. This made DMK members to react strongly. Ministers K.P. Munusamy and R. Vaithilingam supported their colleague.

On the issue of centralised procurement of eggs, Ms Valarmathi explained that this was done with a view to achieving cost reduction as the government found that rates varied from one place to another under the district-level procurement of eggs.

In her reply to the debate, the Social Welfare Minister made certain references to the level of participation in the seminar organised by the TESO. Again, the DMK members were on their feet and many of them rushed to the well of the House. When Speaker P.Dhanapal told them that the Minister’s observations had no reference to any individual, the DMK was not satisfied with this explanation and its members, led by M.K. Stalin, staged a walk out.