Facing fire from the ruling DMK over his limited edition Rafale watch, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Tamil Nadu unit president K Annamalai today broke his silence on the controversy over his expensive limited edition foreign wristwatch. The issue was raised by Tamil Nadu Electricity minister V Senthil Balaji, who wondered how it was possible for Annamalai to afford the limited edition of Rafale watch costing about Rs 5 lakh.
“Is it possible to buy for such a hefty sum?” Balaji asked, pointing out that Annamalai claims to own just four goats and cows. The watch, which the Tamil Nadu minister claims is one of only 500 produced by the French firm, is a limited edition made by the French company marking the handing over of the Rafale fighter jets to India.
Seeking to rubbish the DMK’s allegations, Annamalai first put out a rejoinder to the minister’s claims on Twitter and then reiterated his stand at a press conference.
“Since @arivalayam wants to fight on the issue of corruption with me, I’m more than ready to do that. The details of my Rafale watch, which was purchased in May 2021, along with its bill (before I became TN BJP President), All of my lifetime Income Tax statements, photocopies of my 10 years of all of my bank accounts (every single income I had received will be shown), all my earnings as an IPS officer from Aug 2011 & till I resigned, details of all of the immovable properties I own that is more than 1 Lakh,” Annamalai said a series of tweets, suggesting that he was willing to take the fight to the DMK.
Annamalai further said that the number of sheep and cows he owned will be released on the day he would begin a padayatra in Tamil Nadu “to meet the people who adore our PM Narendra Modi – which will be very soon”.
I wear this because I am a patriot: Annamalai
Annamalai claimed that the special edition wristwatch he sports is made of the same material as the Rafale fighter jet and that he chose the watch model out of patriotism. “I wear this because I’m a nationalist, and this watch is very important to me. Since I can’t fly a Rafale jet, I’ll wear this watch until the day I die,” he said.
Annamalai further said that he would continue to wear the watch as long as he lived. “Who else in the world would buy a Rafale watch? Only an Indian will. So, for the sake of the country, I am wearing a watch produced by Dassault Aviation, made of parts from the Rafale aircraft because I am a nationalist. I am not a person who speaks division,” the TN BJP chief said.
Annamalai vs Senthil Balaji: An old rivalry
This is not the first time that Annamalai and Balaji, both from the Karur area of the state, are at loggerheads. In 2021, Annamalai was booked for saying during a campaign speech that he would break Balaji’s teeth. The case was filed on the complaint filed by Balaji against him.
Annamalai, in turn, has been critical of the minister and demanded on several occasions that he step down from the Stalin cabinet over corruption charges against him. Balaji is involved in a case pertaining to a jobs scam and is contesting it in court legally.
Annamalai’s response on his allegations regarding the Rafale watch, however, failed to cut ice with Balaji who wondered if wearing an expensive watch was a patriotic thing to do.
“Everything about Annamalai’s wealth is already in the affidavit he filed for the 2021 elections. Let him stop lying to people. Is it patriotic to wear an expensive watch?” Balaji asked.
Annamalai, a former IPS officer, resigned from service and joined the BJP in 2020. In his mid-thirties, Annamalai was appointed the president of the BJP’s Tamil Nadu in 2021.