The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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DMK democracy cry

Chennai, Aug. 13: DMK chief M. Karunanidhi today gave a call to “save democracy” in Tamil Nadu following the Jayalalithaa regime’s move to derecognise the employees’ unions which had called last month’s strike and recent raids by anti-corruption sleuths on at least three former party ministers. But the former chief minister stopped short of demanding the state government’s dismissal.

“The situation has now come to such a pass, but I will not press for it (use of Article 356),” Karunanidhi told reporters.

Leaders of most other political parties, including those of the CPI and the CPM, also condemned the government’s move to derecognise the staff unions which, they said, was unheard of in a democracy.

The former ministers whose houses were raided included .K.K. Periyasamy (who held handlooms and textiles), K. Sundaram (dairy development), and K. Pitchandi (housing). The residence of former ADMK legislator from Srivilliputtur R. Tamaraikkani, who later defected to the DMK, was also searched by the sleuths from the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption. The house of Gomathi Srinivasan, a former DMK functionary who recently joined the BJP, was searched, too.

Karunanidhi said the raids, which followed searches at DMK treasurer Arcot . Veerasamy’s properties in Chennai and other places a few weeks ago, were “deliberate and politically motivated”, but asserted that his party was unruffled. “We are not worried about it, we will meet these things legally,” he said.

Asked about the derecognition of employees’ and teachers’ unions, the DMK leader said he would not be surprised if the action is extended to the mainstream trade unions. “The fire can spread”, he said. “Only if there are unions, can employees’ grievances be aired and redressed.”

Karunanidhi, whose party is an ally of the BJP-led coalition at the Centre, disagreed with the Union cabinet’s recent decision to appoint a committee to consider reservation for the poor among the upper castes and introduction of a bill to ban cow slaughter throughout the country.

There is no change in the DMK’s position that reservation should be only on the basis of “social backwardness”, Karunanidhi said. As for the proposed ban on cow slaughter, “the bill is unnecessary”, he asserted.

In a development related to the strike, the Madras High Court chief justice announced names of three retired judges — as directed by the Supreme Court — who would hear pleas of the 6,072 yet-to-be reinstated staff.

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