Stalin moves court for an Amma ‘cover up’

Chennai :  Elections are usually the time when one tries to cover as much ground as possible within a short time and also expose one’s rivals. But DMK leader M K Stalin wants the Election Commission of India to do a ‘cover up’ job for his AIADMK rival and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. Well, albeit, a different kind of ‘cover up.’

Stalin moves court for an Amma ‘cover up’

In a petition filed in the Madras High Court on Thursday Stalin requested the court to direct the EC to cover the photos/images of Jayalalithaa and her party’s ‘Two Leaves’ symbol in the public domain, lest they influence the voters.

While a giant installation resembling the ‘Two Leaves’ was erected by the rulers at the entrance of AIADMK founder M G Ramachandran’s memorial on the Marina – the world’s second longest beach in Chennai –, the symbol has been painted on mini-buses operated by the State Government as well. Besides, Jayalalithaa’s smiling images have been embossed on ‘Amma’ mineral water bottles that are sold by the Government at all major bus stands.

Stalin has contended that these images could influence the voters to support the AIADMK at the polling booths during the Lok Sabha elections. Hence he wanted them to be covered.

Incidentally, during the last Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the EC had ordered giant statues of elephants (the BSP’s election symbol), Mayawati and her mentor Kanshi Ram to be covered with a cloth in the northern State. Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar, who has been credited with conducting fair and free Assembly elections in 2011, is not idle over the issue either. He has already written to his bosses in the EC seeking their advice on concealing these publicly visible political symbols on Government property.

But the task would be enormous. Jayalalithaa had opened low budget canteens called ‘Amma Unavagams’ in all 10 Municipal Corporations in the State including major cities like Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai and Tiruchy, where idlis are sold for as low as one rupee. Recently, one such ‘Amma Unavagam’ (Amma Canteen) was opened at the Tamil Nadu House in New Delhi.  While the images of Jayalalithaa in these canteens could be covered, Praveen Kumar is at a loss on what to do with the name of the canteen and the mineral water. While ‘Amma’ in Tamil means ‘Mother’, the problem is that Jayalalithaa is known by the sobriquet ‘Amma’ to everyone. Her supporters had coined various other eulogizing sobriquets for her but only ‘Amma’ is popularly used everywhere – in posters, Assembly discussions, and even newspaper headlines.

“There is also a view that ‘Amma’ is a generic term in nature. Yet, we have taken this also up with EC,” Praveen Kumar said.

So, even a ‘cover up’ job is not as easy as it may sound.

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