Chennai, Oct 1 (UNI) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi today launched a statewide fast, demanding speedy implementation of the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SSCP), as a bandh-like situation prevailed in the state, notwithstanding the Supreme Court staying the bandh, called by the ruling DMK-led DPA.
However, the 84-year-old DMK patriarch, who came to the fasting venue in front of the State guest house near Chepauk cricket stadium at 0900 hrs, left the venue at 1130 hrs.
Mr Karunanidhi intially decided to observe fast along with alliance party leaders, including TNCC President M Krishnasamy, PMK founder-leader Dr S Ramadoss and Left party leaders, but gave up the idea after the leaders expressed concern over his health condition and requested him to leave.
The octogenarian Chief Minister left the venue, saying he was taking leave deferring to the wishes of the alliance party leaders, but it was believed that he ''gave up'' the fast, unwilling to invite the wrath of the Supreme Court, which took serious note of the bandh-like situation, despite its yesterday's order, staying the bandh.
Despite the apex court staying the bandh on a special leave petition, filed by the main opposition AIADMK, normal life was disrupted in the state. State Transport Corporation buses and large number of autorickshaws were off the road and shops and commercial establishments downed shutters, crippling normal life. Most of the educational institutions and private companies remained closed.
Banks, State and Central Government offices marked thin attendence of staff. The state government maintained essential services.
As appealed by the DMK headquarters, workers of the DMK and its allies began fast at the block, taluk and district headquarters across the state. DMK Ministers and senior leaders of the allies were leading the fast at district headquarters.
The agitation was going on peacefully and no untoward incident was reported from any part of the state, according to reports received at the police headquarters here.
Mr Karunanidhi had made it clear that the decision to go on fast was not against the Supreme Court order, but to remove several forces, which stood like 'Nandis' (a saivite legend) in the implementation of the SSCP.