Chennai: Opposition parties led by the DMK on Sunday pressed for a CBI probe into the death of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, citing a state minister's recent remarks that AIADMK leaders "lied" about Jayalalithaa's health during her hospitalization last year.
The opposition called for "unraveling the mystery" behind the death of the AIADMK supremo, who passed away on December 5 last after 75 days of hospitalization.
Forest minister Dindigul C Srinivasan, whose comments about the "lies" have drawn flak from the opposition, sought to make light of Stalin's demand by stating "it was not new for him to seek such a probe".
Addressing a public meeting in Madurai on September 22, Srinivasan had claimed that party leaders had "lied" about Jayalalithaa's health, fearing her aide V.K. Sasikala, and sought the pardon of the public.
"No one was allowed to meet the late chief minister. Whoever came, would be briefed by Sasikala's relatives that she was all right," he had said.
"We were afraid of Sasikala at that time and lied about Jayalalithaa's health condition," he had claimed.
As the opposition latched onto his statement, the Tamil Nadu minister said they (AIADMK leaders) conveyed to the outside world whatever was told to them by Sasikala.
"Sasikala and her family would tell us she (Jayalalithaa) ate idly, had coffee, was given sweets, did that and this... we told what she (Sasikala) said," he said.
Speaking to reporters at his native Dindigul, Srinivasan said, "I do not care even if a CBI inquiry is ordered".
The minister also urged sidelined AIADMK leader and Sasikala's nephew T T V Dhinakaran to release "video proof" of the treatment given to Jayalalithaa as being claimed by him.
The inquiry commission ordered by chief minister K Palaniswami in the matter would soon start its probe, and Dhinakaran would have to submit whatever proof he had in his possession on the matter before the commission, he said.
DMK working president M K Stalin stated that it was also the "responsibility of the Center" to get to the bottom of the "mystery".
"Since the central government had assisted in the treatment of Jayalalithaa, it has a responsibility to unravel the mystery surrounding her death. Therefore, using its authority, it should immediately order a CBI probe into the matter," he said.
The DMK leader said he was making the plea in his capacity as the leader of opposition in the state Assembly.
He also questioned the veracity of Jayalalithaa's signature on a statement made in her name during her hospitalization seeking support for AIADMK candidates in the by-polls to three state Assembly seats last year.
He said her thumb impression was found in a set of poll-related documents of AIADMK candidates for the elections to Aravakurichi, Thanjavur and Thiruparankundram Assembly constituencies.
Referring to Srinivasan's admission, Stalin said a "question arises" on how an advice was given by Jayalalithaa to re-allocate the portfolios held by her to then finance minister O Panneerselvam in October last.
Stalin recalled that the ruling AIADMK leaders had criticized his father and DMK president M Karunanidhi when he had demanded the release of pictures of Jayalalithaa undergoing treatment and related details since she was the chief minister.
"The AIADMK party members are now demanding the release of not just photographs, but also videos," he said referring to the face-off between Dhinakaran and the unified AIADMK over the matter.
Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president Su Thirunavukkarasar demanded to know who took care of Jayalalithaa when she was in hospital.
"Who really took care of the chief minister? Is it just the hospital management.... did the prime minister inquire about her health? Why did not he visit her?" he asked.
A host of personalities including BJP president Amit Shah, union finance minister Arun Jaitley, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had visited the Apollo Hospitals, where Jayalalithaa was admitted on September 22, 2016.
BJP state unit president Tamilisai Soundarrajan said the people "always had a doubt" over the leader's death and demanded an "honest probe".
CPM state secretary G Ramakrishnan asked what steps did the central and state intelligence agencies take for the late chief minister's security while being hospitalized.
"On whose instructions was the security cover provided to her removed during hospitalization?" he asked.
Ramakrishnan called for a court-monitored probe into the treatment and subsequent death of Jayalalithaa.
The PMK also demanded a probe into her death, especially in the light of Srinivasan's remarks.