Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami, who has been the target of DMK leader A Raja’s jibes including one comparing him to “MK Stalin’s Slipper”, almost broke down on Sunday while campaigning for the April 6 election as he spoke about what he called “hurtful” comments against him and his mother.
“I am speaking not just for me… but what protection do your mothers and women have if this is what the mother of the Chief Minister has to endure? You can imagine what will happen if they come to power,” Mr Palaniswami said in Tiruvottiyur in north Chennai, accusing Mr Raja of making “vulgar and scandalous speeches” against him.
“I did not want to raise this issue but I couldn’t stop myself, seeing the women here,” he said.
The chief minister said a mother occupied a high position in society whether she was rich or poor and anyone who denigrated women would be punished by god and appealed to the people to give people like Raja an “appropriate punishment” apparently through ballots.
“He is also born to a mother but insulted and humiliated mothers. Such people should be punished by you. I was born and grew up in a poor family. My mother was poor but worked hard all her life. Now she is no more. Whether poor or rich, a mother’s position and status is high. If this can happen to a man who is chief minister, think about what will happen to ordinary people like you. God will definitely punish such people,” he said.
A Raja, a DMK MP and party deputy general secretary, had recently made comments loaded with insinuation about Mr Palaniswami’s “birth”.
“He (MK Stalin) served one year in prison under MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act), was district secretary, then general committee member, youth wing, secretary, treasurer, then working president and after Kalaignar’s passing, became party president. That’s why one can say Stalin is born in the proper way, nine months after a proper marriage and rituals. Whereas Edappadi is born like a premature baby and came all of a sudden,” Mr Raja said.
In another speech, Mr Raja sniped that the Chief Minister was “worth less than [DMK chief MK] Stalin’s slipper”.
“Till the other day, Edappadi Palaniswami worked in ‘vellamandi‘ (jaggery market), how can he be competition to Stalin? The value of Stalin’s chappal is more than you by one rupee. And he dares Stalin to challenge him?” Mr Raja said during an election meeting.
The AIADMK has asked the Election Commission to ban Mr Raja from campaigning for the Tamil Nadu assembly election. It has also filed a police case against the DMK leader.
Mr Raja claims his comments have been quoted out of context and misinterpreted on social media.
Mr Stalin was seen to refer to Mr Raja when he said on Saturday that during the campaign, party men “must make dignified comments as rivals would distort and edit speeches”.
With several social media campaigns and comments by political observers, the hashtag #MotherSentiment is being used well by the AIADMK and Chief Minister Palanisamy to push back at the DMK.
The Tamil Nadu election is mainly a contest between the ruling AIADMK, fighting back after a disastrous outing in the 2019 general election, and a resurgent DMK, the main opposition. The results will be announced on May 2.