The war of words between DMK supremo M Karunanidhi and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa over the May Day twin blasts at Central railway station here escalated, with the former hitting out at his arch rival over her criticism of his handling of the 1998 serial blasts in Coimbatore that left 60 persons dead.
While a number of political leaders had issued statements on the twin blasts, which left one dead and 14 injured, Jayalalithaa was singling him out, he said in reference to the AIADMK supremo's criticism that he lacked any moral right to criticise her government as he as chief minister had failed to prevent bomb blasts in the state in 1997 and 1998.
Seeking to 'clarify' how he acted after the blasts that struck Coimbatore, Karunanidhi recalled he had immediately contacted then Prime Minister, the late I K Gujral whom he said promised all assistance to his state. The very next day he had visited Coimbatore, accompanied by then Tamil Maanila Congress founder G K Moopanar and a host of officials, including then Chief Secretary and DGP and met the blast victims undergoing treatment and consoled them besides announcing cash relief to the dead and injured.
On the day of the blast, he recalled, Jayalalithaa at an election rally at Puthukottai had demanded his resignation, later insisting at Manapparai that even she had no security, he said in a statement here. The DMK patriarch recalled she had charged him with failing to prevent the bomb blasts and asked if he should continue in power. "While she has mentioned about Coimbatore blasts, what was she doing after blasts in the capital (Chennai)," he said asking if she had met the injured.
While Jayalalithaa had made such remarks, including virtually demanding his resignation, "I am not going to talk like that now," he said, adding all that he had pointed out was that proper questioning of arrested terror operative Mohammed Zakir Hussain could have revealed the plot to target the Bangalore-Guwahati Express at Central railway station on May 1. "She has issued a statement saying this is wrong," he said and demanded to know why she had not responded to his comments about water shortage and other issues.
On reports that there was an intelligence input on a possible attack, he also sought Jayalalithaa's response on this matter. He also took exception to her describing him as an "armchair critic", saying he had extensively travelled the state for the past many days as part of the election campaign and met people.