Chennai, May 9: Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa was forced to cancel the official dinner for MLAs today after CPM veteran J. Hemachandran questioned the “necessity” of such extravagance when the state was reeling under severe drought.
State finance minister C. Ponnaiyan informed the House this evening that the government had cancelled the dinner, slated for tonight at the Taj Hotel, in the light of the Marxist leader’s reservations.
The minister, however, added that Jayalalithaa had organised the dinner with the “good intent to establish cordiality between the members” irrespective of political differences.
Earlier in the afternoon, Hemachandran had raised his objection soon after Speaker K. Kalimuthu said a bus had been arranged to ferry the MlAs to the Taj for the dinner.
The finance minister then turned the tables when he announced the cancellation, prompting the CPM leader to turn defensive. “My objection to the dinner was as much done in good faith as the dinner was organised by the chief minister,” he said.
However, Opposition members felt Jayalalithaa might have made the decision as intelligence information got around in the afternoon that the entire Opposition had planned to “boycott” the dinner. The DMK has been boycotting the Assembly session for nearly a month.
There was also speculation that Jayalalithaa might have thought it to be “not proper” to host a dinner on the day Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had been bereaved following the death of his sister Urmila Mishra in Delhi.