Understandably, the ruling AIADMK was rattled with the Jaya video release as it could help T.T.V. in the byelection.
Chennai: A video of J. Jayalalithaa drinking from a straw in her hospital bed has stirred a major political storm. “Expelled” AIADMK leader T.T.V. Dhinakaran’s loyalist P. Vetrivel released it to the media inside the state secretariat shortly before noon on Wednesday. Mr Vetrivel’s 20-second bombshell, coming less than 20 hours before polling begins in the high-stakes R.K. Nagar bypoll, rattled the ruling AIADMK and an already red-faced Election Commission.
Insisting that T.T.V. had no foreknowledge of his video release, Mr Vetrivel said he took the decision on his own as the AIADMK drove him to the wall by distributing pamphlets in R.K. Nagar asking people if they would really want to vote for the killers of “Amma” Jayalalithaa. “The pamphlet had no name of the author or printer. We had no option but to release this video now to prove Chinnamma (Sasikala) and Amma shared excellent relations”, he said.
Mr Vetrivel claimed his video release was not for making any political gain in R.K. Nagar but only to counter the propaganda and clarify the truth on Jayalalithaa’s death. “We have more videos (relating to Jaya’s hospital stay), including one showing (then chief minister) OPS and his ministers discussing shifting of Jayalalithaa for treatment abroad. We will release them as and when necessary”, Mr Vetrivel said, adding that the video was shot shortly after she was shifted from the ICU to a normal room.
Understandably, the ruling AIADMK was rattled with the Jaya video release as it could help T.T.V. in the byelection. “This demeaning act was a planned conspiracy by the Sasikala family to bring disrepute to Amma’s fame and image, done keeping in mind the bypoll”, said senior minister D. Jayakumar, saying the EC should take stern action against Mr Vetrivel.
“The Sasikala family troubled Jayalalithaa immensely when she was alive and they are continuing this even after her death. How could the video be taken when there was so much of police security? The inquiry commission should go into all this”, said the minister.
Actually, the commission headed by Justice A. Arumughaswamy now has a lot of work to do, and a lot of public criticism to face. The former high court judge has sought six months’ extension when the three-month tenure granted by the government expires on Sunday (December 24). He has so far heard only 15 witnesses and many critically important persons have not been summoned yet, reports say. The most damning indictment came from Mr Vetrivel at his Jaya video release, when he slammed Arumughaswamy for not calling the T.T.V. group despite their willingness to help.
Another institution that came under intense pressure by the video release was the Election Commission as speculation grew whether the bypoll would be cancelled, once again, as voters could be influenced by some sympathy factor. News came later in the evening from New Delhi that the EC had decided to go ahead with Thursday’s poll. “It’s better we finish this torturous exercise in R.K. Nagar. We have seen one cancellation and we cannot afford another”, said a senior police officer.