DMK chief M Karunanidhi returned to Chennai this evening after a tense weekend in Delhi, where his daughter was told she will stand trial for her alleged role in the telecom scam. "Although Kanimozhi is physically weak, she is mentally strong," Mr Karunanidhi said. He also said that Congress President Sonia Gandhi "asked about Kanimozhi's condition in jail."
A Delhi court handling the trial will decide on November 3 if Kanimozhi can leave jail; yesterday, the CBI said that it does not oppose her application for bail.
On Saturday, Kanimozhi, a Rajya Sabha MP, was formally charged with criminal conspiracy, along with 14 other people, including former Telecom Minister A Raja, the DMK's popular Dalit leader, who has been in jail since February for masterminding the telecom scam.
While Kanimozhi was in court with her mother, husband and their son, Mr Karunanidhi held two important meetings with Congress President Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister. With 16 Lok Sabha MPs, the DMK is a critical component of the UPA coalition at the Centre. Kanimozhi's arrest - and the fact that she has so far been refused bail by multiple courts - has reportedly strained the DMK chief's partnership with the Congress. "I don't know whether there is any political background to the delay in bail for Kanimozhi," he said today.
The alliance was also battered in the Tamil Nadu elections in May, with Mr Karunanidhi being voted out as Chief Minister.
He said he asked Mrs Gandhi, recently returned from an operation in the US, "to take good rest." He asked Dr Manmohan Singh to "save the lives of three death convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case."
Perarivalan, Santhan and Murugan were meant to be executed on September 9 for their roles in the murder of Mr Gandhi, who died at an election rally in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu in 1991. The convicts appealed to the Madras High Court and their case is now being studied. All political parties in Tamil Nadu have backed a call to waive the death penalty for the men. "They've spent 20 years in jail. I asked PM to consider this as adequate punishment," said Mr Karunanidhi.