The Madras High Court on Thursday rejected Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader A Raja’s petition, challenging the Election Commission order to debar him from campaigning for 48 hours for his derogatory remarks about Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami, PTI reported.
Soon after the poll panel’s decision on Thursday, Raja’s counsel V Shanmugasundaram mentioned the matter before the bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy. He requested that the matter be heard on Friday as a special case since it was a holiday on account of Good Friday. Shanmugasundaram also said that the campaigning for Tamil Nadu Assembly elections will end on April 4.
The judges, however, rejected the petition.
Besides debarring him from campaigning for 48 hours with immediate effect, the poll body had delisted Raja’s name from the list of star campaigners of the DMK. It reprimanded him for violating the Model Code of Conduct and advised the former Union minister not to make indecent remarks in future during election campaign.
On Wednesday, Election Commission had sent a notice to Raja for two of his speeches. The first speech was made in Keelapalur, where Raja had said, “[MK] Stalin is a child of good relationship and good birth while Edappadi Palaniswami is a child of bad relationship and a premature born child”.
The second speech cited by the Election Commission was given in Meensurutti, where the DMK leader said that Palaniswami had “crawled and held Sasikala’s feet who is almost equal in age or to say who is six months younger” to him “just for the sake of [becoming] chief minister”.
The commission said Raja’s interim reply to the notice “was not found satisfactory”.
Raja’s comments had sparked public outrage, with AIADMK leaders staging statewide protests demanding his arrest. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also accused the DMK and the Congress of having an “anti-woman mindset” and alleged that insulting them was a part of the Opposition’s culture. Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had urged “mothers and sisters” of the state to not vote for the party in the elections.
Palaniswami broke down while responding to Raja’s comments on March 28. A day later, Raja apologised, saying he had not intended to defame Palaniswami or his mother.