TN Chief minister and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa had opposition members squirming in their seats and the treasury benches sniggering when she taught Congress MLAs in the state assembly a few lessons about their own party history. It was a class she took with great relish, reading out from a voluminous book, titled ‘The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi-Volume 90,’ published by the Union ministry of information and broadcasting in 1984.
A day after the five Congress MLAs in the assembly demanded proof for a statement made by a state minister in the assembly about a well-known fact about the party’s history that Mahatma Gandhi wanted to disband it immediately after Independence, Jayalalithaa produced the book in the House to make her point. Liberally quoting from it, she said, “Though split into two, India having attained political independence through means devised by the Indian National Congress, the Congress in its present shape and form, that is, as a propaganda vehicle and parliamentary machine, had outlived its use.”
On Monday, local administration minister K P Munusamy had mocked Congress members saying Mahatma Gandhi wanted to disband their party after the country’s Independence. This evoked loud protests from the Congress MLAs, who demanded proof for his statement. Jayalalithaa said she had kept silent during the argument as she wanted to speak with proof in hand the following day. To drive home her point that Congress members appeared ignorant about their own party’s history, the CM said late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had written the foreword in the book. “Mahatma Gandhi himself has said in his writings that the Congress has expired,” Jayalalithaa said, taunting the red-faced Congress MLAs.
“It (the Congress) must be kept out of unhealthy competition with political parties and communal bodies. For these and other similar reasons, the AICC resolves to disband the existing Congress organisation,” Jayalalithaa said, quoting from the book. “So, this is appropriate proof that many people, who are in the Congress, are speaking without even knowing their party’s history,” she said. The chief minister also slammed the UPA government’s ‘wrong’ policies and urged the Centre to take effective measures immediately to control spiraling prices of essential commodities.