Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has asserted that his government had no intention to "malign" All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam supremo Jayalalithaa in the land grabbing case, even as she threatened to sue him for defamation on the issue.
Karunanidhi told the state assembly on Friday that the Justice Sivasubramanian Commission of Inquiry was constituted to probe the Siruthavur land grabbing charges only after the Communist Party of India-Marxist, now an ally of the AIADMK, had spearheaded an agitation against her on the plea that the land assigned to Dalits had been usurped.
He said the bungalow at Siruthavur, used by Jayalalithaa, was located in a 115-acre site that included the disputed property. Of this, 35 acres were government poromboke land.
Bharani Resorts, in which relatives of Jayalalithaa's close friend Sasikala hold stakes, illegally purchased 53 acres of Dalit lands and he had only mentioned this at a meeting organised by the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, he said, adding, "Charges and counter-charges are common during public meetings. Both of us are none to second in this."
Earlier in the day, Jayalalithaa, given clean chit by the inquiry commission, threatened to sue Karunanidhi for defamation accusing him of indulging in a "false propaganda" against her on the land grabbing issue.
"Knowing fully well of the fact that I have no connections with the disputed property, Karunanidhi was indulging in false and malicious propaganda against me and had said in the VCK meeting last month that a former chief minister had a driven away Dalits from their land at Siruthavur village," she said.
Speaking in the assembly, Karunanidhi said "We don't intend to malign or bring even the smallest of the disrepute to the former chief minister But whatever the charges (regarding land grab), they were raised by the CPI(M)."
Karunanidhi recalled former state unit secretary of CPI-M N Varadarajan had submitted a petition to him on the alleged grabbing of land assigned to landless Dalits in Siruthavur seeking it to be referred to an inquiry commission.
"If the charges of O Panneerselvam (of the AIADMK) who had criticised the government on the issue are true, it should go to their ally CPI-M and not to us," he said, intervening Panneerselvam and his party colleague K A Sengottiyan who said the commission's findings proved that Karunanidhi's reported remarks that their leader had usurped lands assigned for Dalits were false.
Karunanidhi said the commission had recommended retrieval of the land but government had not taken any hasty decision though the involved parties were close to Jayalalithaa.
Though the commission had submitted its report some days back, the government did not take any action only because the findings could be discussed in the House, he said.
The commission, in its report tabled in Assembly yesterday, had said not even a notice was issued to Jayalalithaa on transfer of land title deed by fraudulent means as there was no specific case against her.
It, however, indicted two relatives of Sasikala, V N Sudhakaran (Jayalalithaa's former foster son) and Ilavarasi, both partners of Bharani Resorts, which was alleged to have transferred the assigned land through fraudulent means.