Days after a Madras High Court judge indicated that he may order exhumation of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s body, Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu today said he was not in favour of it. “I am not in favour of it personally. I hold her (Jayalalithaa) in high esteem. Exhuming the body somehow does not go down well with me,” the Union Urban Development Minister said in reply to a question.
On December 29 last, while hearing a plea seeking a probe into the circumstances leading to Jayalalithaa’s death, Justice S Vaidyanathan, who was heading a two-judge vacation bench, had said the public should know what had happened in this regard.
“After the demise, everybody has a right to question. I personally have a doubt,” the judge had said while posting the matter to January 9 after issuing notices to the Centre and the state government.
Speaking to reporters at the BJP state headquarters here, Naidu said, “If the judge has an opinion, it is his opinion. If he has issued notice, it will be replied to (by the Centre). Let us wait for what the court has to say.”
To a query on the treatment for Jayalalithaa, he said, “We have no reasons not to believe the doctors. I too had enquired with them,” adding that the former chief minister had recovered, but passed away due to a subsequent cardiac arrest.
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On doubts over the treatment and circumstances leading up to Jayalalithaa’s death, Naidu said, “There will always be some doubting Thomases. Let them raise those doubts. They will be replied to at the appropriate forum by the authorities concerned and not by an individual Union minister.”
He asserted that even though there was an issue of privacy, the hospital had still come out with medical bulletins on the former chief minister’s health condition.
“It is a matter of privacy, (still) bulletins were given and all precautions were taken. We should not raise such doubts unnecessarily without authentic information. If someone has authentic information, let them come out with it and then, the appropriate authorities will respond to it,” Naidu said.
He also faced questions on the possibility of AIADMK chief VK Sasikala becoming the chief minister, whether the BJP was “comfortable” with Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and on ties between the Centre and the state following Jayalalithaa’s death.
Naidu said the choice of who should helm the state was an internal matter of the ruling party over which neither the BJP nor the Centre had a say and nor would they interfere.
He added that the Centre conducted business with elected chief ministers of states, whoever they may be.
To a query on Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai writing to Sasikala on his official letter pad requesting her to take charge as chief minister, Naidu said, “He could have avoided the letter pad (to write a letter for a party matter).”