The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tamil stars in split protests

Chennai, Oct. 10: Tamil filmdom’s division into two camps — one led by actor Rajnikanth and the other by director Bharathiraja — over Karnataka’s refusal to release Cauvery waters to Tamil Nadu in defiance of the Supreme Court’s directives, has widened the chasm among NDA allies in the state.

Hopes of artistes protesting as one in support of Tamil Nadu’s farmers has suffered a severe blow with Rajnikanth deciding to put up his own show with a token fast in Chennai on October 12, the day when the Tamil Film Artistes Association had planned a protest rally at Neyveli to press for stoppage of electricity generated by the Neyveli Lignite Corporation to Karnataka.

The division in the agitation approach following Rajnikanth’s disapproval of the Neyveli rally has also spilled over into the political realm. DMK president M. Karunanidhi has thrown his weight behind Rajnikanth’s fast and has also directed party MPs and MLAs to stay away from the Neyveli rally. The Tamil Nadu BJP has also supported the fast, as has Dalit leader and Puthiya Tamizhagam president Krishnaswamy.

The DMK says Bharathiraja’s speech has raised the possibility of violence at the Central power utility, though sources say the real reason is that ADMK chief Jayalalithaa has supported the Neyveli rally.

Dalit leader R. Thirumavalavan, the general secretary of the DPI regrets the diminished importance of the Neyveli rally.

Another prominent NDA ally in Tamil Nadu, the PMK led by S. Ramadoss, has also distanced itself from the DMK’s position on this issue. The division in the ranks of the Tamil filmdom, after a successful daylong bandh yesterday on the issue “will only gladden the hearts of Karnataka”, he said here today.

The PMK leader said Bharathiraja was the first to get the entire Tamil film industry to rally behind the farmers and film artistes should participate only in the Neyveli agitation.

“People seeking to undermine this effort are working against Tamils’ interests and are hence condemnable,” Ramadoss argued. Urging that the issue not be politicised, Ramadoss said the venue of the agitation was unimportant. What mattered was the protest being a unified expression of the Tamil Nadu people’s feelings, he added.

While the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee has chosen to play safe by supporting the Neyveli agitation and Rajnikanth’s fast, this row has certainly placed the Tamil Nadu NDA in dire straits.



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