Parties divided on general strike on Lankan Tamils issue
Chennai (PTI): The general strike called by ruling DMK on Thursday on the Lankan Tamils issue has evoked a mixed response with its allies including Congress backing it but AIADMK and its partners refusing to take part, slamming it as a "farce".
Chief Minister and DMK President M Karunanidhi, under mounting pressure ahead of the Lok Sabha polls for not doing enough on the Lankan issue, last night gave the strike call to protest the 'killings of innocent Tamils in Sri Lanka' and to demand immediate steps for a ceasefire.
Mr. Karunanidhi's appeal for support by all parties was rejected outright by AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa who said the strike would only cause hardship to people and her party would not participate and would go ahead with election campaign.
Describing the strike call as a "farce and drama", Ms. Jayalalithaa said when the entire world was demanding an immediate ceasefire, Mr. Karunanidhi has called for a strike.
Noting that the Supreme Court had held that general strike was illegal, she asked whether the strike would in any way help to bring about a ceasefire in Sri Lanka.
Mr. Karunanidhi, however, hit back at Jayalalithaa for describing the strike as a 'drama', saying it was she and her party members who did not take part in any pro-Sri Lankan Tamils activities including the human chain and all-party delegation that met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Meanwhile, transport authorities in the state said they would maintain normal bus services.
Southern Railway said it would operate "full services" on the suburban lines in south and north Chennai routes.
All domestic and international flights would be operated on Thursday, Chennai Airport Director K Natarajan said.
Congress, which has come under fire, from pro-Eelam parties and outfits for its alleged failure to ensure a ceasefire in Sri Lanka, however, backed the 12-hour strike from 6 am.
TNCC president K V Thangkabalu and Congress Legislature Party leader D Sudarshanam said the party would participate in the strike.
The Congress-led UPA was making efforts to mitigate the suffering of the Sri Lankan Tamils, they said.
DMK's allies, the pro-Eelam Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) and Dravida Kazhagam have also extended support.
The AIADMK allies, PMK and CPI(M), slammed Karunanidhi for the strike call. CPI(M) state secretary N Varadarajan said such "farcical drama" would not yield any result.
Questioning the necessity for the strike, CPI state secretary D Pandyan said Karunanidhi wanted to make last-ditch efforts to appease Tamil people with an eye on elections. CPI would neither support nor oppose it, he said at Coimbatore.
The PMK founder Dr S Ramadoss described the strike call by Karunanidhi as a "sudden waking up from slumber".
The pro-LTTE MDMK founder Vaiko said his party would not take part in it and go ahead with electioneering.