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
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
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.