The Election Commission on Tuesday night issued a notice to DMK MP and party Deputy General Secretary A Raja over crass comments targeting Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and his birth ahead of next month’s election.
Mr Raja, 57, has been directed to explain his remarks on or before 6 pm Wednesday, failing which the poll body will “take a decision without any further reference” to the former Union Minister.
Based on a complaint from the ruling AIADMK, which wants Mr Raja banned from campaigning for making “vulgar and scandalous speeches“, the notice said: “… it has been alleged you have made derogatory and scandalous (comments) against Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami… “
The notice referred to speeches made at Keelapalur and Meensuruti in Tamil Nadu on Friday.
“The Commission is of the view that the contents of the speeches made by you are not only derogatory but also obscene and lower the dignity of motherhood of women, which seems to be a serious violation of the provisions of the Model Code of Conduct,” the notice read.
In his speech Mr Raja made crude remarks about the Chief Minister and his birth, saying that he (Mr Palaniswami) was “worth a rupee 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 had declared.
He also compared the two party leaders’ rise in politics, saying: “… 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.”
Shortly after, A Raja apologised, saying he had been “distressed” to know his remarks had offended the Chief Minister. He said his remarks were “not personal criticism”.
“I was distressed to read in media reports that the Chief Minister had been hurt by my words. It was taken out of context, misunderstood but I express regret…” he said.
“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?” he asked voters at a rally in north Chennai.
The Chief Minister has also received support from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose BJP is allied with the AIADMK. The Prime Minister hit back at Mr Raja, referring to him as an “outdated 2G missile” – a reference to the infamous 2G scam that rocked the country. The “missile” launched by the DMK and its ally the Congress, he said, had one clear target – the women of Tamil Nadu.
Tamil Nadu votes in a single phase on April 6, with results due May 2.