The year-long celebration of the birth centenary of AIADMK founder and three-time Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M G Ramachandran ended in Chennai on Sunday with a show of strength by the Edappadi Palanisamy Government as busloads of party men descended on the city from all over the State, choking traffic.
Despite the best effort by the Government to send a message across that it was alive and kicking and the party was vibrant despite the split after the passing of MGR and his successor J Jayalalitha, the public meeting at the YMCA grounds in Nandanam saw a modest turnout while the dais was crowded by Ministers, party functionaries and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Thambi Durai.
Though the Government wanted to make it an all-party affair and invited not only DMK president and Leader of the Opposition M K Stalin and even breakaway group leader chief of Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam, not only these two but the entire opposition stayed away.
Stalin said the Government had spent tax payers money for narrow political ends and was trying to perpetuate itself in power by cashing in on the popularity of MGR.
Dinakaran said that despite the AIADMK having got the name, symbol and the flag, it could not muster cadre support as was shown from the turnout and that it would be trounced in the coming elections.
In his valedictory address, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy spoke more about the achievements of his government in the last nearly two years than about MGR and Jayalalitha and took swipes at Stalin and others who boycotted the function.
Palanisamy and Deputy Chief Minister O Pannerselvam said no one could destabilise their government and they would rule on thanks to the enduring legacy of MGR and Jayalalitha.
Palanisamy asked the Centre to confer Bharat Ratna on DMK founder C N Annadurai and J Jayalalitha just as the Rajiv Gandhi Government conferred the nation’s highest civilian honour of MGR posthumously
He claimed that in the last one year, the Government had implemented over 500 district-specific welfare schemes at a cost of over Rs 10, 000 crore.
The valedictory showed that it would take years for Tamil Nadu to put behind the bitter rival rivalry between Karunanidhi and MGR and later Karunanidhi and Jayalalitha and move to issue-based politics.