In a renewed demand, the ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu on Thursday asked for conferring India's highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna on its late supremo J Jayalalithaa. Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam stated that Jayalalithaa was a champion for social justice who gave 69 per cent reservation to the downtrodden people and hence the party desired the award be conferred to her.
"It is Amma (Jayalalithaa) who gave 69 per cent reservation to the downtrodden people. She was a champion for social justice. Therefore, Bharat Ratna for Amma is our desire," said Panneerselvam.
The party also sought the honour be conferred upon late Dravidian stalwarts E V Ramasamy 'Periyar' and C N Annadurai.
A meeting of the party's Executive Committee, a key decision-making body, urged the Central government to award Bharat Ratna posthumously for the three leaders for their struggles and achievements in public life.
While the party had made the demand for honouring Jayalalithaa with Bharat Ratna months after her demise in December 2016, the move to seek the honour for Periyar and Annadurai, a former chief minister, comes decades after their death.
The latest demand comes days after DMK Rajya Sabha member Tiruchi Siva asked the Centre to posthumously confer Bharat Ratna to party chief M Karunanidhi as a tribute to his outstanding and exemplary work for the people.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour in the Rajya Sabha, Siva had said Karunanidhi, who passed away on August 7, was a Dravidian stalwart and the tallest leader of the country.
The AIADMK meeting, held under party presidium chairman E Madhusudhanan, adopted a resolution, seeking Bharat Ratna for social reformer Ramasamy, popularly known as Periyar, Annadurai and Jayalalithaa. Party Coordinator O Panneerselvam and Coordinator K Palaniswami among others attended the meeting.
Jayalalithaa, the resolution said, was a "proud daughter of Mother India," who loved the people. She overcame many difficulties to emerge victorious and her achievements as a starlet, political leader and Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu were 'grand', it said.
As Chief Minister, she launched a number of welfare measures, especially benefiting women and chidlren and was an "upholder of social justice," it said. The resolution recalled her giving away her gold jewels to then Prime Minister Lalbahadur Shastri, during the 1965 Indo-Pak war and said it "displayed her patriotism."
It described Periyar as "one of the great revolutionaries" the world has seen and said he had sowed the seeds of revolution through his oratory and writings. "He tirelessly strived against social practices that enslaved women, besides the exploitation in the name of caste," it said.
Heaping praise on Annadurai, DMK founder and the first non-Congress Chief Minister in Tamil Nadu after the country's independence, the AIADMK said he showed for the first time that a regional party can storm to power in Independent India. The party recalled his decision to rename Madras State as Tamil Nadu, besides his contribution in addressing issues like hunger, food safety and welfare of various sections, and urged the Centre to confer the Bharat Ratna on him.
The meeting also passed resolutions, lauding the party's K Palaniswami-led government on many issues including the handling of the Cauvery issue. It adopted resolutions condoling the deaths of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Karunanidhi. It also condoled the loss of lives due to recent rain fury in neighbouring Kerala and Karnataka.