The Tamil Eelam Supporters Association (TESO) conference slated for August 5 in Villupuram should help create a separate Eelam for Tamils in Sri Lanka, TESO chairman and DMK president M. Karunanidhi said on Sunday.
Addressing a public meeting in connection with his 89th birthday, Mr Karunanidhi said that Tamils were discriminated against in Sri Lanka and living without self-respect in their country.
“Our efforts and the TESO conference should help in creating a separate Eelam. This will be my birthday message,” he said at the meeting held at K.K. Nagar.
The conference will be organised in coordination with the Dravidar Kazhagam and Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi (VCK).
Mr Karunanidhi, who is a partner in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), claimed that the DMK never compromised on its principles and had not remained silent when the government in which it was a part of pursued anti-people policies.
In the past the DMK had supported the Congress government led by Indira Gandhi. But, when she imposed Emergency, it had opposed it tooth and nail. Hundreds of DMK members and functionaries, including M.K. Stalin and Arcot N. Veeraswami, had to languish in jail.
Similarly, when the BJP-led government turned against minorities, particularly Muslims, the DMK walked out of the coalition, though it was led by A.B. Vajpayee, whom he described as a rare leader in the BJP.
He said that the DMK was committed to people's welfare and it was due to that commitment that his party organised a demonstration against the hike in price of petrol.
“The Congress came out with an explanation for hiking petrol price and announced a partial rollback. But, you must keep in mind that the AIADMK government did not bother to reduce the price of milk, bus fare and electricity tariff though its allies raised their voice.”
Mr. Karunanidhi said that the AIADMK government had no locus standi to criticise the Centre for the petrol price hike after making the people of Tamil Nadu shoulder additional burden to the tune of over 18,000 crore in the form of taxes and price hikes. “The DMK government always presented tax free budgets.”
Earlier in the day, the birthday celebrations began with the planting of a sapling at Mr. Karunanidhi's C.I.T. Colony residence.
He cut a cake with family members at Gopalapuram, visited the memorials of DMK founder C.N. Annadurai and Dravidar Kazhagam founder Periyar E.V. Ramasamy and received scores of party workers who made a beeline for Anna Arivalayam to wish him.
The celebrations culminated in the public meeting, which was held on a stage designed to resemble the study at his Gopalapuram residence.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and AICC president Sonia Gandhi were among those who greeted him.