‘No intent to disrespect’: Jaya breaks ice, thanks Stalin

Chennai: In a significant gesture seeming to put behind poll rivalry, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa today thanked DMK Treasurer M K Stalin for attending her swearing-in ceremony and said she looked forward to work with his party for development in the state.

A day after controversy over Stalin being alloted a back-row seat at the venue of her swearing-in ceremony, Jayalalithaa said there was no intention to show disrespect to him or his party.

“I am happy to note that Thiru MK Stalin, MLA, attended the swearing-in ceremony of the new council of ministers. I thank him for attending the event,” she said in a statement. She said Stalin was seated in the block of seats intended for Members of the Legislative Assembly.

“I am informed that the Public Department had followed the protocol manual in allocating seats in the hall for the event,” she said, adding, “if this seating plan caused him any discomfiture, I would like to assure him that there was no intent to show disrespect to him or his party.”

“Had the officers brought to my notice that Thiru MK Stalin would be attending the event, I would have instructed the officers in charge of the arrangements to provide him a seat in the first row, relaxing the norms in the protocol manual,” she added. Conveying Stalin her good wishes, she said she looked forward to “working with his party (DMK) for the betterment of the state.”

AIADMK and DMK leaders meeting each other in public functions or exchanging pleasantries are very rare and in this context Jayalalithaa’s reaction is seen as important.

Along with some of his party MLAs, Stalin was seated in the back row at the Madras University Centenary auditorium where Jayalalithaa was sworn in as chief minister for the sixth time. DMK chief Karunanidhi had said yesterday that his party was “insulted” at the swearing-in ceremony, complaining about the seating arrangement made for his son Stalin.

He had said Stalin was made to sit ‘among the crowd’ even as a losing candidate and AIADMK ally, R Sarath Kumar, was allotted seat in the front row. “Stalin, who has the qualification to sit in the main Opposition after DMK won 89 seats, was given a seat among the crowd whereas Sarath Kumar was seated in the front row,” he had said.