CHENNAI:The EPS-OPS camp of the ruling AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu has urged the Election Commission to take “immediate action” against P Vetrivel, an aide of sidelined party leader TTV Dhinakaran.
This came just hours after Vetrivel released a video on Wednesday morning, purportedly showing former chief minister J Jayalalithaa recuperating in a hospital room.
Addressing the media, state law minister and senior member of the EPS-OPS camp, D Jayakumar, said the video being circulated in the media is a violation of the Model Code of Conduct, since it came less than 24 hours before the prestigious RK Nagar constituency of Chennai holds by-elections. “The people of Tamil Nadu will not fall for these tricks. The EC must take strict action against Vetrivel and Dhinakaran for releasing this video,” he said.
Bypolls to the RK Nagar constituency, which has been vacant since Jayalalithaa’s death on 5 December, 2016, will pit TTV Dhinakaran against E Madhusudhan, the candidate put forth by the EPS-OPS camp.
However, the news agency ANI quoted Jayakumar as claimed that the video has been in Dhinakaran’s possession for over a year, and the fact that they chose this day to release it proves that they intend to use it to influence voter behaviour, which is against the Code of Conduct.
He was further quoted as saying by CNN-News18 as saying that even if they did want to release the video, they should have shown it to the one-man enquiry committee instituted by the Madras High Court that is investigating Jayalalithaa’s death.
“There is a committee that’s being instituted for this specific purpose. If you want to convince anybody about Jayalalithaa’s health during her time at the hospitalisation, let them watch the video. By releasing it to the people at large, they are tarnishing Amma’s image and legacy,” he added. He added that the hospital authorities should also be equally responsible. “Jayalalithaa was accorded Z+ security. If somebody went into her room and shot the video, it was a breach of security. How did the hospital permit this to happen? They too are responsible,” he said.
What’s in the video
Vetrivel, a Dhinakaran supporter and former AIADMK legislator, said they were “forced” to release this video because Opposition parties kept demanding proof. “OPS has been making accusations every day. Even yesterday, he was speaking about Amma’s death. We hope these pictures will settle the debate. We didn’t want to release this footage at all, but were forced to, because they keep going on,” he said.
Responding to criticism that the timing of the video’s release, just one day before the by-election, was “suspicious”, Vetrivel said they aren’t doing it for electoral gains. “The elections are a very small matter. Raising doubts over Amma’s death is a much bigger issue. We are sharing this video to settle that argument alone. We want to make it clear that she was cared for. If it was only about the elections, we could have shared it in April (when polling was originally scheduled to be held, before the Election Commission deferred it),” he added. Meanwhile, the Election Commission has barred the rival AIADMK factions and the media from displaying the footage or playing the video.
‘Request Media Houses to Not Telecast Video’: Election Commissioner
Speaking to The Quint, Rajesh Lakhoni, the Chief Electoral Officer from Tamil Nadu said that the release of Jayalalithaa’s video was a violation of Section 126 1(b) of the Representation of People’s Act – the penalty for which amounts upto 2 years of imprisonment.
Requesting media houses to refrain from broadcasting the clip, Lakhoni said that the telecast of the video was a violation as the RPA ‘prohibits display of any ‘election matter’, inter-alia, on TV during the period of 48 hours fixed for conclusion of polls.’
We will first take action on the person who has released the video. And after investigation, we will find out if TTV Dinakaran is responsible.TTV Camp Denies Uploading Jayalalithaa Clip
The TTV Dinakaran camp has denied that their association with the release of the Jayalalithaa clip. The faction alleges that Vetrivel had uploaded it without Dhinkaran’s permission.
Dhinakaran is not allowed to speak to media as per election code of conduct.