- A Raja said his comments were taken "out of context, misunderstood"
- "My speech was not a personal criticism of two leaders," he said
- AIADMK has asked the poll body to stop A Raja from campaigning
DMK leader A Raja, who triggered a huge controversy ahead of April 6 Tamil Nadu election with his remarks against Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and his mother, has now apologised for the comments. The ruling AIADMK on Saturday had asked the Election Commission to stop the 57-year-old DMK leader from campaigning for "making vulgar and scandalous speeches" against the Chief Minister, popularly known as EPS.
While offering the apology, A Raja said: "I reiterate... my speech was not a personal criticism of two leaders. My speech was an estimate and comparison of two personalities in public life."
The former telecom minister, referring to the high-profile 2G case in which he was acquitted, said: "Justice Saini's four-point summary in 2G verdict will apply here too: Misreading, selective reading, out of context reading and non-reading."
"I was distressed to read in media reports that the Chief Minister had been hurt by my words. It was taken out of context, misunderstood but I express regret from the bottom of my heart. Further, I would say that if it is not for political reasons but even otherwise if he is feeling hurt, then I have no hesitancy to seek a heartfelt apology," he added.
In the comments that led to the controversy, A Raja had made reference to EPS's mother and called his "birth" as "premature". Earlier, he had called the Chief Minister "worth one rupee less than [DMK chief MK] Stalin's slipper".
"He (MK Stalin) served one year in prison under MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act), was district secretary, then general Council member, youth wing, secretary, treasurer, then working president and after Kalaignar's passing, became party president. That's why one can say Stalin is born in the proper way, nine months after a proper marriage and rituals. Whereas Edappadi is born like a premature baby and came all of a sudden," Mr Raja said.
"Till the other day, Edappadi Palaniswami worked in 'vellamandi' (jaggery market), how can he be competition to Stalin?," the former union minister said during another election meeting.
On Sunday, speaking about the "hurtful comments", the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister choked up as he campaigned. "I am speaking not just for me... but what protection do your mothers and women have if this is what the mother of the Chief Minister has to endure? You can imagine what will happen if they come to power," Mr Palaniswami said as he broke down in Tiruvottiyur in north Chennai, accusing Mr Raja of making "vulgar and scandalous speeches" against him.
"I did not want to raise this issue but I couldn't stop myself, seeing the women here," he said.
A mother occupied a high position in society, the Chief Minister said, whether she was rich or poor and anyone who denigrated women would be punished by god and appealed to the people to give people like Raja an "appropriate punishment" apparently through ballots.
Tamil Nadu votes in a single phase on April 6; results will be out on May 2.