BJP supports, Opposition parties decry Jayalalithaa portrait unveiling

Tamilisai Vijayadharani welcome inauguration of Jaya’s portrait in Assembly

A portrait of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has been unveiled at the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly in Chennai.

After trying in vain to get Prime Minister Narendra Modi to do the honours, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami chose to get Speaker P. Dhanapal to unveil her portrait in the Assembly hall alongside those of stalwarts including free India's first and last Governor General C Rajagopalachari and DMK founder C N Annadurai.

DMK working president MK Stalin said the move went against the Constitution and the apex court judgment in the disproportionate assets case in which the court abated proceedings against her following her death on December 5, 2016.

The Tamil Nadu government, meanwhile, defended its move to unveil Jayalalithaa's portrait, highlighting her "landmark" initiatives, including specific steps for women's empowerment.

The state government brushed aside the criticism and rushed through the ceremony, as the DMK petitioned the Madras high court, demanding the portrait be removed from the assembly.

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With the DMK, Congress and Indian Union Muslim League boycotting the function, members of the ruling AIADMK, the party founded by Jayalalithaa, occupied the Opposition benches.

Contending that Jayalalithaa was convicted posthumously in a corruption case, opposition leaders have objected to the decision. It will be an insult to the Speaker, who expunges remarks that were not allowed in the House if he unveils the portrait of a person convicted in a corruption case, Mr Stalin added. Already, a petition filed by our party MLA J Anbazhagan against keeping the portrait of Jayalalithaa is pending before the court.

The seven feet tall portrait shows Jayalalithaa in her trademark green sari, staring down at the Opposition benches.

He had also said that she was regarded as a role model by the chief ministers of other states. "Hence, her portrait should not be unveiled in the Assembly". CM E Palaniswami, his deputy O Panneerselvam, other AIADMK leaders, police and officials were present during the event in the Assembly.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May past year to be the chief guest for the unveiling.

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