Chennai, May 24, 2020 : The DMK president M K Stalin on Sunday held an emergent video conference with district secretaries, MPs and MLAs in the wake of the arrest of member of Parliament and organising secretary R S Bharathi under the SC/ST act and warned the AIADMK government of direct action if this kind of witch-hunt continued.
Bharathi (71), was arrested at 4 am on Saturday at his residence in Chennai despite his protest that he was a diabetic and had high BP.
He was arrested in connection with a complaint made by a little known Dalit leader. The action came 100 days after Bharathi’s address at a closed-door DMK meeting on Feb 25 . At that meeting, he said Dalit judges owed their position to the DMK which fought for their uplift.
He has already apologised when his remark led to protests. He could very well have justified that there was nothing derogatory in saying that his party got many Dalits elevated to the bench. He did not, given the sensitivity of the issue.
Stalin told party functionaries that dusting up an old case when Bharathi’s petition to quash the FIR registered in connection with that speech was pending before the Madras High Court, smacked of vendetta. He also pointed out that Bharathi was active in pursuing irregularities in procurement of Covid testing kits. He said the Government wanted to divert attention of the people from its own failure to contain the pandemic in the State.
Other DMK leaders have said Bharathi was the first to initiate the probe into TANSI land deal against late Chief Minister J Jayalalitha in the 1990s which much in later March 2016 led to her conviction in the case, leading to her disqualification, when she was battling for life.
Since then, Bharathi has pursued complaints against Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and other Ministers of the present Edappadi K Palanisamy Government. He was always a marked man and his arrest showed a convergence of interests between the BJP and the AIADMK.
Viduthulai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader Thol Thirumavalan, who is an ally of the DMK, has said Bharathi is ready to face the case and he has already got anticipatory bail as also other MPs like Dayanadhi Maran and T R Baalu. But the manner of his arrest showed the Government is vigorously pursuing the new BJP leader V Murugan’s agenda to paint the DMK as against Dalits.
He also recalled the enquiry made against the DMK mouthpiece Murasoli that it was occupying a panchami land in Chennai by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Tribes, of which Murugan was past vice-chairman. Thiruvamavalan said the commission had never before shown such zeal in pursuing a case though several instances of atrocities against Dalits had been brought to its notice.
While Thirumavalavan has spoken out, Stalin is more circumspect as he does not want to take on both the Modi and the Edappadi Governments at the same time, especially in these Covid times when public demonstrations are out of the question.