Monday, Oct 21, 2002
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By R.K. Radhakrishnan
The party provided a list of the arrested, including elected local body representatives, district office-bearers and youth wing leaders.
The police said about 5,000 volunteers were arrested as a "preventive measure.''
Party leaders maintained that nothing would stop them from going ahead with the agitation plan. Listing the acts of "oppression'' of people after the AIADMK came to power, the DMK leaders cited, as reasons for the agitation, the move to increase power tariff, the plan to do away with free power to farmers, an across-the-board increase in prices of commodities and services, the anti-government servant attitude and the refusal to pay bonus, the ordinance banning forced religious conversions, the failure to get Cauvery water and the growing unemployment.
Test of leadership
The protest will be the first real test of leadership and organisation in adverse conditions for the former Chennai Mayor and DMK youth wing chief, M.K.Stalin, who is expected to lead the agitation in the city.
"The police have been arresting DMK men and youth wing functionaries since yesterday evening to ensure that the agitation does not succeed,'' Mr.Stalin said and condemned the police action. "We will hold the agitation in front of all collectorates as planned, regardless of the action,'' he added.
The DMK viewed the act of raiding the residence of the former PWD Minister and senior DMK leader, Durai Murugan, as part of the Government's "terror tactics.'' "It looks as if they have saved this raid for the occasion,'' a former Minister commented.
For Mr.Stalin and the party, the agitation is crucial. After the violent August 12 rally last year, the leadership's call for agitations over various issues, including the unseating of Mr.Stalin through an amendment to the Act, did not elicit the desired response. Mr.Stalin, who was to inaugurate a DMK gruel distribution centre near Madurai a few months ago, stayed away sensing trouble. The function was marred by violence and a police lathicharge.
More than anything else, the need to prove the leadership's declaration that it would not be cowed down by any action requires that Mr.Stalin makes the protest a success.
The response to the agitation call in Madurai, still considered a stronghold of Mr.Stalin's brother, M.K.Azhagiri, would be watched with interest as it would indicate whether the move to effect a rapprochement between the two brothers has worked.
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