Competing rallies lock down Chennai

December 06, 2018 12:00 am | Updated 05:05 am IST - CHENNAI

AIADMK, AMMK were observing Jaya’s second death anniversary

Remembering Amma:AIADMK and AMMK leaders at Jayalalithaa’s memorial on Wednesday.S. R. Raghunathan

Remembering Amma:AIADMK and AMMK leaders at Jayalalithaa’s memorial on Wednesday.S. R. Raghunathan

The ruling party’s silent rally led by the Chief Minister from Anna Salai to Jayalalithaa’s memorial on Marina on Wednesday threw traffic out of gear in the heart of the city, causing severe hardship to thousands of commuters.

While the rally taken out by the Chief Minister and his cabinet colleagues started from Anna Statue around 10.45 a.m., the roads started getting clogged by 10 a.m. itself.

After the ruling party, the rival faction, AMMK, led by T.T.V. Dhinakaran took out a rally along the same route around noon to the Jayalalithaa memorial.

At least three ambulances were stuck in the chaos created by the two parties claiming legacy to the late AIADMK leader on the eve of her second death anniversary.

While motorists blamed the city police of poor traffic management, police claimed that the delayed arrival of thousands of cadre in private vehicles led to the chaos.

“Partymen will never change. They don’t have the courtesy to give way to an ambulance,” said an ambulance driver. It took him nearly 25 minutes to reach Bata Junction from Spencer Plaza and that too with a patient inside.

For thousands of commuters it took over an hour to cover short distances.

K. Ganesan, who runs a small-scale business unit, said that it took nearly 45 minutes for him to get down the Gandhi Irwin bridge and reach Poonamalee High Road.

“Not even a single policeman was present on the bridge,” he said.

Poor planning

Even the traffic policemen were irked due to poor planning.

“If diversions were already announced, many would have opted for public transport or would have started early for work,” said a policeman.

Though the Chennai traffic police held a meeting on Tuesday to manage the situation, they did not announce any diversion.

They had planned to enforce last minute diversions and that too if necessary. Over 1,000 traffic policemen and armed reserve personnel were deployed, sources said.

Once the procession started with Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O. Paneerselvam, along with other leaders, all wearing black shirts, the traffic came to a halt on Anna Salai and Poonamalaee High Road. Smaller roads connecting them were clogged.

Many took to social media to vent their anger. Some posts accused Tamil Nadu politicians of creating chaos by bringing cadre to the city just to show crowd and support and some wondered if the police had sufficient manpower to manage the traffic problem. Only by 2 p.m., the traffic eased.

Meanwhile, traffic police claimed that the confusion was due to the cadre. According to the police 25,000 persons, from both the parties, took part in the rally.

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