Less than two weeks before Tamil Nadu goes to vote, former Union Minister A Raja has provoked a major controversy by calling Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami, popularly known as EPS, “worth less than [DMK chief MK] Stalin’s slipper”.
“Till the other day, Edappadi Palaniswami worked in ‘vellamandi‘ (jaggery market), how can he be competition to Stalin? The value of Stalin’s chappal is more than you by one rupee. And he dares Stalin to challenge him?” Mr Raja said during an election meeting.
“The guts that Nehru, Indira Gandhi or Modi did not have, Edappadi is showing because he believes the money he has looted and his party will save him. He says he will stop Stalin. If he does that even on a single day, I humbly inform him that his car won’t go from his residence to office,” he said.
Taking the provocative jibe on his chin, Mr Palaniswami decided to add to the narrative that he has been building all through this campaign that he is a farmer and came from a poor family and therefore would stay humble.
He said he had risen from meagre means to become Chief Minister whereas Mr Stalin had been born with a silver spoon as his father had been Chief Minister. “After all, it is the only party that did a scam even with invisible air,” EPS said in one of his campaign rallies in Madurai’s Melur, referring to the 2G spectrum scandal.
“See what is the language he has used. That my value is one rupee less than the chappal worn by Stalin. See how they talk. How can he compare a Chief Minister to a chappal? Let it be. I will stay who I am. After all, I am a farmer and us poor will be that way. We work hard and only buy whatever we can afford. But they are not like that. They were behind a Rs 1.76 lakh crore corruption scam and can buy whatever they want,” EPS said.
Set to vote on April 6, Tamil Nadu is expected to see a contest mostly between the ruling AIADMK, fighting back after a disastrous outing in last year’s general election, and a resurgent DMK in the opposition. Votes will be counted on May 2.