The general strike called by the Tamil Eelam Supporters’ Organisation (TESO) for the Sri Lankan Tamil cause on Tuesday brought out fundamental differences that have prevented political parties in the State from coming together on a single platform.
Barring the DMK and its ally Viduthalai Chiruthikal Katchi, even political parties such as the MDMK, PMK and other outfits that share the idea of “a separate Eelam” refused to participate in the strike.
DMK’s rivals argue that the party had no locus standi on the issue, as it failed to take any concrete steps to stop the war in Sri Lanka in 2008-09, when it was part of the Congress-led UPA at the Centre.
The Left parties, particularly, the CPI(M), sought to maintain their distance on the ground that it was not in favour of a separate Eelam. The Congress also has a similar approach and is in favour a solution within a united Sri Lanka.
In a statement here, DMK president and TESO Chairman M. Karunanidhi himself acknowledged the political divide.
He said though an appeal was made to all to participate in the strike irrespective of political affiliations, some parties sought to link it with the DMK, a member of the TESO, and refused to take part in it.
“But the people of Tamil Nadu rejected their call and made the strike a success. The State government-owned transport corporations could operate only a few buses since many workers stayed away from work. As many as 50,000 persons were arrested in connection with the strike,” he said.
In Chennai, DMK treasurer M.K. Stalin, DK president K. Veeramani, VCK leader Thol Thirumavalavan and TESO leader Suba Veerapandian were arrested when they organised a picketing.
Shops and commercial establishments in several parts of the city remained closed. There were minor incidents in different parts of the state, but no major untoward incidents were reported.
In Kancheepuram, barring a lone incident of violence at Kalpakkam, the general strike passed off peacefully.
Local DMK cadres tried to stage a road roko at Kalpakkam Township junction on East Coast Road at around 9 a.m.
They were arrested, but on their way to the police station, they seized perishable commodities such as flowers and vegetables and threw them on the carriageway and damaged shops.