Tamil Nadu

AIADMK, BJP locked in war of words

BJP State president Tamilisai Soundararajan and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam. File photo  

In an all-out battle of words, reflective of the political tug-of-war playing out in the State, the AIADMK and the BJP on Friday took on each other on who should claim credit for the release of five Tamil Nadu fishermen recently sentenced to death in Sri Lanka.

Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, also the AIADMK treasurer, alluding to the BJP leaders claiming credit for the development, said this would amount to humiliating the fisher-folk of the State. The fishermen knew who their true friend was, he said. “What steps were taken in the last three years by those who now say it is all because of their efforts that the fishermen have been released,” he asked.

However, the BJP had a counter-point. Immediately after the news broke on Wednesday on the release, BJP State president Tamilisai Soundararajan pointed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role in freeing them.

Giving an exhaustive account of the measures taken by the AIADMK government in the last three years for the welfare of fishermen in general and for the five fishermen in particular, Mr. Panneerselvam said: “The AIADMK is the only movement which works with a sense of dedication for safeguarding the livelihood of fishermen and ensuring their security. The AIADMK government is the only such government.”

However, Ms. Tamilisai told The Hindu that she could counter-pose the same queries to Mr. Panneerselvam and ask why the AIADMK government was not able to pressure the Centre during the UPA regime to secure the release of the fishermen. “I would like to ask them whether this would have happened without Mr. Modi’s intervention,” she said.

At the Chennai airport, in the early hours of Friday, several Ministers of the AIADMK government, led by B. Valarmathi, and senior leaders of the BJP, including Union Minister Pon. Radhakrishnan and State general secretary Vanathi Srinivasan, competed in welcoming the fishermen, whose death sentence was commuted by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, as they arrived from Colombo through New Delhi.

As the BJP workers raised slogans hailing Mr. Modi for the release, the AIADMK Ministers stole a march over them by presenting a cheque for Rs. three lakh to each of the five fishermen to enable them to resume their normal activities.

The BJP, which has upped its ante in Tamil Nadu, has gradually grown critical of the AIADMK government since the Lok Sabha elections. In the local bodies by-elections, it contested against the AIADMK. Competitive politics is beginning to hot up even if the Assembly elections are still about two years away.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2021 5:22:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/aiadmk-bjp-locked-in-war-of-words/article6622922.ece

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