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A morale-lifting event for DMK

By A.V. Ragunathan

VILLUPURAM Sept. 22. The Villupuram DMK conference, intended to be a ``show of strength'', seems to have achieved its objective, going by the turnout all the three days, from September 19 to 21.

Despite hiccups and what the organisers called ``official apathy and total lack of cooperation from local authorities'', the meeting has lifted the sagging morale of the leaders and cadres. The district secretaries utilised the occasion to showcase the ``flock that is together and well knit too.''

The event had raised expectations among the partymen - the president, M. Karunanidhi, even projected it as a ``turning-point conference'' — and hence, the curiosity-driven cadres assembled at the venue in large numbers to know about the course to be taken by the DMK, which had received too many beatings in the recent past.

Enthused by the overwhelming response, the speakers came out with their oratorical skills, and many of them called for a `revolution'. Mr. Karunanidhi, in his valedictory address appreciated the enthusiasm shown by the partymen, and said he would term it neither a ``district nor State conference, but would call it an assemblage of State people (or Naadu).''

The DMK chief said the conference also provided a platform for the speakers to give vent to their pent-up emotions, calling for a revolution (to change the present rule). He did not believe in an armed or terrorist revolution, but reposed faith in a democratic revolution.

``The partymen should ponder ``who we are opposing, and hence it was decided that the party mobilise at least Rs. 25 crores to take on the opponent (at the hustings)'', he said. The district units collected a little over Rs. 30 crores in response to his appeal for creating the election fund.

The DMK chief pointed out that despite the large turnout, not even a single policeman was to be seen at the conference venue. Maybe, the police might have thought that the ``Thondar Padai'' itself could handle the disciplined and dignified cadres. Earlier, the police denied permission for taking out a procession, and the officialdom refused to allow the organisers to procure sand for the venue, making them go for green-coloured polythene sheets to spread on the floor.

Politically, the two main issues the DMK has been focussing on in recent months — ``misuse'' of the Prevention of Terrorism Act in Tamil Nadu and the threat to the secular fabric of the country from a resurgent Ayodhya campaign — figured prominently in the resolutions.

'Why not take the plunge'

But there was a tinge of disappointment among the cadres, who felt that the leadership was not willing to take the plunge. ``They are willing to strike, yet afraid to wound (the BJP)'' was how one of the district secretaries described the mood.

The understanding was that the leadership was not in a hurry to foreclose its options and would decide ``at an appropriate time''. Meanwhile, it would push ahead with the anti-AIADMK Government protests and consolidation of `secular forces'.

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