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Stars fight Cauvery war

Neyveli, Oct. 12: Tamil Nadu’s filmdom today converged on the Neyveli Lignite Corporation to demand that supply of power to Karnataka from the Central plant be stopped in response to the neighbouring state’s refusal to release Cauvery water.

Scores of actors, directors and technicians marched from a village outside the NLC complex to the rally venue, where top stars, including Kamalahasan, made emotive speeches late this afternoon at an open-air dais opposite the power utility’s corporate office. Karnataka chief minister S.M. Krishna’s violation of the Supreme Court order to release Cauvery waters to Tamil Nadu should be condemned by one and all, said Kamalahasan.

The artistes, led by director Bharathiraja under the banner of Kalaiulaga Cauvery Agitation Forum, wore black badges and demanded stopping power supply to Karnataka.

The tit-for-tat threat was, however, merely symbolic as the Neyveli power plant feeds the entire southern grid from which the states in this region, including Karnataka, draw their share. Sarath Kumar clarified that “we have not come here to cut off power supply to Karnataka, but only to express our feelings”.

By making the demand, the artistes sought to underline the need for reciprocity in resource-sharing among neighbouring states, Bharathiraja said. “We are only agitating in a peaceful and democratic manner to get our rightful share of the Cauvery waters,” he asserted.

As the rally had the blessings of all parties, particularly the ADMK, thousands thronged the venue. At Cuddalore prison, the inmates — led by Tamil nationalist leader P. Nedumaran who has been jailed under the anti-terrorism law —observed a fast today.

Though the rally started well beyond its scheduled time, the stars did not disappoint the audience with their words.

“Karnataka has been testing our patience beyond limits,” said Vijayakanth to thundering applause. Kamalahasan added that though the rally was meant to show Tamil sentiments have been deeply hurt “we should not forget that we are Indians first, then Tamils and Kannadigas”.

People lined the roads to cheer the stars as 200 buses and luxury cars ferried the artistes and technicians from Chennai early this morning. A massive makeshift kitchen with 136 cooks was set up on a polytechnic campus en route to prepare lunch.Though the rally started well beyond its scheduled time, the stars did not disappoint the audience with their words.

“Karnataka has been testing our patience beyond limits,” said Vijayakanth to thundering applause. Kamalahasan added that though the rally was meant to show that Tamil sentiments have been deeply hurt “we should not forget that we are Indians first, then Tamils and Kannadigas”.

Finally, it looked more

like a leisurely paced star-night evening, than a

serious protest rally over the Cauvery waters issue.

The star-packed procession, with some of the

leading artistes on a tractor-trailer, to protest

against Karnataka's denial of Cauvery waters was

delayed by several hours this evening. Due to lack of

proper coordination, it was finally flagged off by

actor Vijayakant at 1735 hours at a village near here.

The delay in the rally was partly due to the

artistes departure from Chennai itself being delayed

by several hours, and many of them had to go without

food due to lack of proper arrangement at a

Polytechnic en route where they were scheduled to halt

for lunch.

It was also speculated that the rally was being

delyaed so that many of the artistes would not be able

to return to Chennai in time for the fast by the

superstar Rajnikanth in the State capital tomorrow.

As darkness began to engulf the open maidan

where several top stars were scheduled to address,

people who had gathered in large numbers since the

afternoon began to return in disappointment. The

meeting may go on till late in the night though

Mr.Bharathiraja and others have submitted their

memorandum to the NLC's Chairman and Managing Director

at its corporate office here.

Star Speaker at the rally here

tonight, actor Kamal Hasan said that the Karnataka

Chief Minister, Mr.S.M.Krishna's violation ot the

Supreme Court order to release cauvery waters to TaMil

Nadu should be condemned by one ane all. "It goes

against the grain of the National mainstream", he said

though the rally was to express how Tamils sentimetns

have been deeply hurt, "we should not forget that we

are Indians first, then Tamils and Kannadagas."

In a blistering attack against

Karnataka's attitude, the President of the South

Indian Film Artistes Association, actor Vijayakanth

said Tamil Nadu people have been so 'large hearted' to

let people from other States "make a living here". "I

am NOT talking secessionsim, but Karnataka has been

testing our patience beyond limits," said Vijayakant,

and asked amidst thunderous applause "are not there

Kannadigas also in Chennai '"

The DMK MP and actor Sarath Kumar made clear

that "we have not come here to cut off power supply to

Karnataka, but only to express our strong feelings

over the Cauvery issue." The film fraternity should

stand united and go in a delegation, meet the

Karnataka Chief Minister, S.M.Krishna, the Prime

Minister, Mr.A.B.Vajpayee and the Congress President,

Mrs.Sonia Gandhi, to "convey what we deeply feel."

While the AIADMK M.P.,and comedian S.S.Chandran

wondered how justified Karnataka was in denying Tamil

nadu the cauvery waters when India shared the Indus

waters with Pakistan and the Ganga waters with

Bangaladesh.

Noted Director K.Bhagyaraj, whom MGR had called

him as "his heir" in the field of Cinema, made the

point that today's huge rally by the Tamil film

artistes was only a reaction to the Kannada film

artistes taking to the streets in Bangalore seeking to

block Cauvery waters to Tamil Nadu.

The Agitation forum's President and well known

director, Bharathiraja said, "we are only agitating in

a peaceful and democratic manner to get our rightful

share of the Cauvery waters.

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