Taking a swipe at Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, DMK president M Karunanidhi today said no proper seating arrangements were made in the Tamil Nadu Assembly for an “ailing” person like him who had participated in debates for over 50 years.
After signing the Assembly attendance register, Karunanidhi, who has been wheel-chair bound for the past few years, told reporters outside the House, “Tamil Nadu’s present Chief Minister Panneerselvam had given a statement. I came here believing him. But, there was no proper seating arrangement for people like me, who are ailing.”
The DMK chief has been engaged in a war of words with Panneerselvam over convening of the Assembly to discuss issues like inter-state water disputes and power crisis. Ruling AIADMK has been accusing him of avoiding Assembly sessions since it was elected to power in the 2011 polls.
Citing arrangements for the differently-abled in Rajya Sabha in Delhi, where facilities such as separate seating have been made for ailing people, he said, “I have seen ailing people participate in Parliament proceedings. I came here believing such facilities would have been made available. But it is painful to see how people feel it would be better that I left the place.”
The 90-year-old leader said, “I have been taking part in Assembly proceedings for over 50 years. That too I have not lost an election in these 50 years and have functioned well. I have performed my Assembly responsibilities. But you are seeing the kind of respect given to me. I did not expect everyone to welcome me. I came here thinking a seat would be enough for me. I could not even enter the House.”
Karunanidhi said, “I hoped that at least a separate chair would have been kept ready. There was no such chair. So, I have come to understand that they do not like me to participate in the House proceedings,” he said.
After signing the register in the Assembly, he left without attending the proceedings.
This is the first Assembly session for Panneerselvam as the Chief Minister after taking over the reins from Jayalalithaa, following her conviction by a special court in Bangalore in a disproportionate assets case.