TAMIL NADU

Walkout in Assembly over Valarmathi's remark

CHENNAI, MARCH 24. Five Opposition parties today staged a walkout from the Assembly protesting against certain remarks made by Rural Industries Minister B. Valarmathi.

Ms.Valarmathi, who started her reply to the debate on the demands for rants to the Small Industries and Handlooms departments, said: "Some `vidwans' got themselves admitted to hospital when the tsunami hit the State."

Even as these remarks drew loud protest from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Law Minister D. Jayakumar wondered why the DMK members should get irritated when his colleague did not mention any name.

The DMK members and ruling party MLAs were on their feet shouting at each other.

CM's intervention

Even as the Speaker, K.Kalimuthu, called Arcot N.Veerasmy (DMK) to speak, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa intervened to say the DMK MLAs were making much ado, though Ms.Valarmathi did not mention any name. She asked the Speaker to take action against Parithi Ilamvazhuthi (DMK) for "violating discipline and abusing the ruling party MLAs."

Mr. Kalimuthu ordered the eviction of Mr. Ilamvazhuthi, as he "disrupted the proceedings".

Mr. Veerasamy said the House already discussed the issue and it was pointed out that DMK president M. Karunanidhi, who was hospitalised then, handed over Rs.1 crore to Congress president Sonia Gandhi for rehabilitation of the tsunami victims.

Ms. Jayalalithaa, who intervened again, said the DMK MLAs created a ruckus without allowing the Minister to continue her reply. She accused Mr.Veerasamy of wasting time by recalling what was discussed earlier. He denied the charge. The DMK MLAs walked out.

At the fag-end of her reply, Ms. Valarmathi said some leaders behaved like Viceroys and Governor-Generals of the State. They stood on the tomb of State autonomy, dreaming to come back to power.

Though they claimed to tread the path of the late Chief Minister, M.G. Ramachandran, it was they who were responsible for the attack on Ms. Jayalalithaa in the House on March 25, 1989. "Let none dream of defeating our Amma", she said.

Members belonging to the Congress, the Pattali Makkal Katchi, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India stood up to protest against the remarks.

The Congress Legislature Party deputy leader, D.Yasodha, led the walkout by her party MLAs, alleging that they were not given an opportunity to express their views.

Members of the other three Opposition parties also trooped out.

`War from 1972'

Asking the Congress not to get agitated over the issue, the Speaker said it was part of a war going on right from 1972. It was natural for the affected people to express their anguish.

Proceeding with her speech, Ms.Valarmathi said the Chief Minister had the support of the people and the backing of the pantheon of prophets and gods.

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