Thursday, Oct 16, 2003
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"Thiru Mani Shankar Aiyar has been making a number of highly accusatory and exaggerated statements of his version of what happened at the Tamil Nadu Government's function at Nagapattinam on 13.10.2003 and thereafter. A minor incident is sought to be blown up by Mani Shankar Aiyar and various opposition leaders, including Thiru M.Karunanidhi, who are always looking for some excuse to make wild charges against me. It is reprehensible that newspapers are trying to distort Mani Shankar Aiyar's original remarks about me and trying to give a totally different picture of what he had said earlier in an article written by him. Many newspapers are deliberately changing the words used by him to play down the outrageousness of what Mani Shankar Aiyar had written. Mani Shankar Aiyar had written that I had donated an elephant to the Guruvayoor Temple and that he "wanted to donate Jayalalithaa to the Guruvayoor Temple." This is what Mani Shankar Aiyar had written in his article. Do those opposition leaders, including Karunanidhi, endorse and approve what Mani Shankar Aiyar stated? Apart from this, newspapers are replete with reports that I attacked the MP on the dais at the meeting. I did not do any such thing. I only recounted what he had written earlier and asked whether Mani Shankar Aiyar would repeat those words on this platform. I chose to speak of this article written by Mani Shankar Aiyar at this function because it was the first occasion when I came face to face with Mani Shankar Aiyar after he wrote this derogatory article about me.
"Mani Shankar Aiyar deliberately arrived late for the function and came to the dais well after the function started. That itself was an act of discourtesy. Yet, I did not take that seriously and did him the courtesy of giving him an opportunity to speak. After I distributed assistance to a select number of beneficiaries and while I was sitting on the dais, waiting for distribution of aid to the large number of beneficiaries by Ministers, MPs, MLAs and government officials to be completed, Mani Shankar Aiyar came up to me and abused me in English in coarse, filthy and unprintable language. I do not want to repeat the words he used because no self-respecting lady would ever use such demeaning language.
"The Speaker of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, who was seated next to me, heard everything that Mani Shankar Aiyar said and the Speaker is a witness to what happened then. Having said his piece, Mani Shankar Aiyar left the dais. At that time, all others, including Ministers, MLAs, and Government officials, were not present on the dais as they left the stage to distribute assistance to the beneficiaries seated in the pandal. However, I did not react to what Aiyar said and I did not tell anyone else about it. I am only revealing this now because of the manner in which Mani Shankar Aiyar is trying to portray himself as a person who has been wronged.
"Making an offering to a temple is something personal and an act of devotion borne out of the religious faith of an individual. It is not appropriate or civilised for others to criticise such a personal act of faith. Not only did Mani Shankar Aiyar criticise my religious belief in the most derogatory, vile, undignified and coarse language in his article, but he also added insult to injury by hurling abusive epithets at me to my face on the dais at Nagapattinam. Mani Shankar Aiyar has only revealed his true colours and calibre by these acts of his.
"As to what happened later, it should be borne in mind that the alleged attack on Mani Shankar Aiyar took place within the Union Territory of Pondicherry. I do not see why my partymen should be linked to this incident. Though there were several lakhs of people gathered at the venue of the government function in Nagapattinam, I wish to point out that no one harmed Mani Shankar Aiyar there or anywhere near the vicinity. It is quite common for Congressmen to attack each other, break windshields and glasses of each other's vehicles and tear each other's shirts. This is happening practically every other day in Tamil Nadu even in Chennai itself at the Sathyamurthi Bhavan. Practically, at every meeting of Congress workers in Tamil Nadu, it is the customary practice for them to come to blows and hurl chairs and other things at each other and tear each other's clothes.
"This alleged attack on Mani Shankar Aiyar took place within the Union Territory of Pondicherry. Therefore, it is the Pondicherry Government, which should provide protection to him. I do not understand how all the opposition leaders in Tamil Nadu have themselves come to the conclusion that AIADMK men were responsible for this incident.
"There have also been reports about an attack on the MP's office at Mayiladuthurai in which some furniture was damaged. The Tamil Nadu Police have registered a case and are enquiring into the incident. But even before the investigation can be completed, not only has Mani Shankar Aiyar himself given a complaint, specifically mentioning some AIADMK men by name, but all other opposition leaders have also attributed this incident to the AIADMK men. It is quite possible that in order to gain political mileage out of a minor issue and in an attempt to win public sympathy, Congressmen themselves could have damaged the MP's office at Mayiladuthurai and thrown the blame on the AIADMK men. Only a police investigation will reveal what really transpired. Prematurely condemning the AIADMK men before the results of the investigation are known is both unjust and unfair.
"This incident once again illustrates the generally hostile, malicious and inimical attitude of the opposition in Tamil Nadu. According to them, Aiyar, ridiculing my offering of an elephant to a temple and his declaring that he would like to give me as an offering to the same temple, is not wrong. They do not see anything wrong in that but my recalling this at a function is wrong. All that I did was to repeat the very words, which Mani Shankar Aiyar had used and asked him whether he would care to repeat the same words again.
``Over and above all this, Aiyar had the gall and audacity to approach me and insult me to my face in the foulest of language. Once again, I wish to point out that I behaved in a dignified manner and did not retaliate in anyway. Mani Shankar Aiyar left the venue immediately thereafter and he was allowed to leave in peace. As to what happened later, one can only guess as to who were behind the incidents that took place later and whether those incidents were deliberately created or stage-managed in a pathetic attempt to gain political mileage. Though Mani Shankar Aiyar and some newspapers are claiming that there was a murderous attack on him, it is to be noted that Aiyar did not suffer even a scratch. Is this not very strange? If it had truly been a genuine attack would Aiyar have escaped unhurt like this?
"All that the entire episode has shown is that I am a dignified lady while Mani Shankar Aiyar is obviously not a gentleman.
"As Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, I wish to add that there is no apprehension of any danger to Mani Shankar Aiyar in Tamil Nadu and if he seeks protection from the State Government, adequate protection will be provided to him."
In an article in The Telegraph on September 12, 2002, Mr. Aiyar wrote, " When J.Jayalaithaa became Chief Minister, she donated a baby elephant to the Guruvayoor temple. When I become CM, I intend donating Jayalalithaa to the Guruvayoor temple. And to become CM, I am planning to move a bill in parliament to ban fading actresses of cinematic origin from becoming Chief Minister."
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