Chennai: Ruling AIADMK on Monday hit back at Union Minister Piyush Goyal over his reported critical remarks against Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, terming it as “baseless allegations” and charged him with trying to seek “political mileage” in poll-bound Tamil Nadu.
In a detailed rebuttal, Party Treasurer and Finance Minister O Panneerselvam said “there is no iota of trurth” in Goyal’s remarks that he was neither able to meet the Chief Minister nor state Ministers during the last 22 months. Piyush Goyal “There is no iota of truth in these allegations which are baseless, and made for political mileage,” he said in a statement here, a day after DMK President M Karunanidhi sought an explanation from Jayalalithaa to Goyal’s claim.
Panneerselvam listed out the meetings Jayalalithaa had with members of the union cabinet, right from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, both in Delhi and Chennai since 2014.
“It is condemnable that Mr Piyush Goyal has made such baseless allegations for political mileage in a situation where the AIADMK under the leadership of Amma (Jayalalithaa) cannot be defeated at all,” he said.
He also lashed out at Union Minister of State Pon Radhakrishnan for making similar “false allegations.” Panneerselvam said Jayalalithaa was in constant touch with the Centre on key issues impacting the state’s welfare either through letters or by meeting Ministers in person. In fact, she had met Modi in Delhi within days of him assuming office in 2014.
She had also met Jaitley and submitted demands for state’s welfare to both leaders, he recalled. Union Ministers Ravishankar Prasad, Nirmala Seetharaman and Pon Radhakrishnan had met her at Tamil Nadu House in the national capital then, he added.
Prasad and his cabinet colleague M Venkiah Naidu had also later met Jayalalithaa here in 2014 while Modi also met her at her Poes Garden residence in August 2015, Panneerselvam said.
Modi once again met the Chief Minister when he visited the city to survey the flood-hit areas in December 2015 and Naidu and Jaitley also called on her here later, he said, adding the last two meetings were scheduled on Sundays.
AIADMK was doing its best on issues, including the GAIL pipeline project and the fishermen’s problems, impacting Tamil Nadu, he said. Seeking to turn the tables, he said AIADMK delegation’s attempt to meet Modi over state fishermen’s issue and GAIL pipeline matter “failed”.
“It is a fact that even recently (AIADMK delegation) under Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai had sought appointment with the Prime Minister to take up the fishermen’s issue but no time was allotted following which they met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj,” he said.
Modi had also not given appointment to discuss the GAIL issue, he claimed. Panneerselvam, whose AIADMK is fancying a good show in the upcoming Assembly election, said the elections should be fought on the basis of policies and the people welfare projects that have been implemented.
“Mr Piyush Goyal and Mr Pon Radhakrishnan should stop such mischievous campaign aimed at political mileage,” he said. Goyal, in his reported remarks at a meeting in Delhi that went viral on social media, had said he was unable to meet the Chief Minister nor state ministers during the last 22 months of his tenure.
“It (TN) is a state within a State. It is part of the country where I can’t even reach out to the Chief Minister. I have made several attempts to talk to their leaders without success”, he said.