CHENNAI: AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa and DMK chief M Karunanidhi are at it again this time sparring over the NDA government's land acquisition bill adopted in the Lok Sabha last week and expected to come up for ratification in the upper house. The latest salvo has been fired by former chief minister J Jayalalithaa.
A day after Karunanidhi had accused Jayalalithaa of practising double standards by first opposing the ''anti-farmer" bill and later voting for it to cozy up with the BJP, the AIADMK general secretary hit back saying her party's supported the legislation as it conferred on the state governments power to decide on granting exemptions with regard to acquisition of lands for certain categories. "Why should the bill that gives more powers to the states be opposed?" she asked.
In a detailed statement, she said AIADMK had opposed the Land Acquisition Bill of 2013 moved during the UPA rule on the ground that it encroached upon the powers of the states. "The party opposed the bill as it facilitated institutions like GAIL to take on the state and farmers. But, AIADMK endorsed the present bill as it vests more powers to the state and does not affect the welfare of farmers. There is no double standard," she said and sought to know whether DMK leader wanted the Centre be vested with more powers than the state.
The 38 AIADMK members voted in favour of the bill after the NDA government accepted their demand and dropped the move to relax the conditions for private hospitals and private educational institutions. Apparently referring to Karunanidhi's mention of her appeal in the wealth case before the Karnataka high court, Jayalalithaa said that it was an attempt by the DMK leader to find imaginary reasons for AIADMK's support to the bill and trying to link unconnected issues, as he could not find any proper reply.
Following DMK chief Karunanidhi's announcement last week that the party activists would stage demonstrations outside collectorates across the state on December 20 against the "anti-farmer" stand of Jayalalithaa, the party on Sunday stepped up its scathing attack on the AIADMK. DMK treasurer M K Stalin accused the ruling party of showing its true colours by voting with the NDA in the Lok Sabha on this issue. "Its words and actions are totally at odds with each other. It first stood with other parties and opposed the amendment. Then, for reasons known to all, it did a U-turn," he said. Most land owners share a deep and long-standing emotional and spiritual connection with their land that cannot be measured in terms of money. The DMK will stand as one with the farmers and oppose any government action that tries to forcibly acquire their land, he said.
The DMK has been aggressive in recent times in its attempt to pin down the ruling party, beginning with a demand for the arrest of former agriculture minister Agri S S Krishnamoorthy, who was stripped of his party post and dropped from the cabinet in the wake of reports that his associates had abetted the suicide of an agriculture department executive engineer S Muthukumarasamy in Tirunelveli recently.
Political observers said the confrontation will recur when the bill is taken up in Rajya Sabha in the coming week, where NDA remains in a minority. AIADMK has 11 MPs, while DMK is represented by 4 members in the upper House.