Chennai, Aug 22: DMK MLAs today staged a walkout from the Assembly after Speaker P Dhanapal refused to revoke the suspension of 79 of their colleagues even as Chief Minister Jayalalithaa targeted the main Opposition party and its chief Karunanidhi for not participating in proceedings.
Soon after the House assembled, eight of the ten non-suspended DMK members, including former Ministers I Peraisamy, K N Nehru and Poongothai Aladi Aruna urged Speaker Dhanapal to reconsider his ruling suspending 79 of their colleagues for a week.
The allies of the DMK, Congress and IUML members also made a similar plea. Dhanapal, however, said DMK members were criticising him outside the Assembly and urging revocation inside. He said he was constrained to take such an action, adding there was no question of reconsidering it.
Following this, DMK, Congress and IUML members staged a walkout, leaving the opposition benches empty. Jayalalithaa, soon after they trooped out, in her reply to the demand for grants for police, fire and prison departments referred to the claims of DMK (outside the House) that they were suspended to "prevent them" from participating in discussions on police grants.
She said 79 DMK members were suspended for stalling the House proceedings by the Chair. "However, giving a twist to it (suspension), they are making such a claim," she said.
"If they are truly concerned about participating in debates, ten (non-suspended) DMK MLAs could have come to the House and expressed their views. They came...but immediately walked out," she said.
Recalling how she had participated in proceedings in 2006 all alone after all her party legislators were suspended, she asked if the DMK chief had such a courage at any point in time. Apparently taking a dig at DMK treasurer Stalin, she asked, "does the person who is today the Leader of Opposition and claiming to be the future chief of party (DMK) have such courage.?"
She pointed out that though Stalin may have been suspended, DMK chief Karunanidhi was not. "He (Karunanidhi) may have come if he had courage. He should have come. He should have spoken," she said.