No constitutional breakdown in TN: Karunanidhi

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Chennai, Oct 1: In an anti-climax, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi today decided against observing fast, while DMK-led DPA leaders launched a statewide fast on the Sethusamudram issue, even as the state presented a bandh like situation, notwithstanding the Supreme Court order against it.

The statewide fast began at 0900 hrs and ended at 1700 hrs.

Barring few incidents of stone-pelting and a violent attack between volunteers of the ruling DMK and the opposition AIADMK at Mannarkudi in Tiruvarur district, the agitation passed off peacefully in the state, police said.

In the city, the 84-year-old Mr Karunanidhi, who decided against continuing the fast in deference to the wishes of the alliance party leaders, inaugurated the fast near state Guest house, stating that the DMK-led DPA had no option but to observe fast in the wake of Supreme Court staying the bandh.

The Chief Minister, who came to the fasting venue at 0900 hrs, took leave of the alliance party leaders, who expressed concern over his health condition, and left for the Secretariat around 1130 hrs.

DPA leaders, led by DMK General Secretary K Anbazhagan, observed the fast. They included Union Ministers T R Baalu, A Raja, E V K S Elangovan, G K Vasan, TNCC President M Krishnasamy, PMK leader Dr S Ramadoss, and Left leaders N Varadarajan and D Pandian.

At 1700 hrs, DMK treasurer Arcot N Veerasamy offered fruit juice to his octogenarian colleague Mr Anbazhagan and other leaders, marking the end of the fast.

For all practical purposes, a bandh like situation prevailed in the state with shops and commercial establishments downing their shutters and state transport corporation buses and autorickshaws remaining off the roads.

Most of the educational institutions remained closed and banks, central and state government offices functioned with skeleton staff in the absence of public road transport.

The Southern Railway maintained normal services, operating all its suburban and express trains, while air services were disrupted as public sector Indian and other operators cancelled some of the flights.

Barring minor stone-pelting incidents in Coimbatore, the agitation was peaceful througout the state, according to reports received at the police headquarters here.

At Mannarkudi in Thanjavur district, the police opened few rounds of fire in the air to disperse DMK and AIADMK men, who clashed over resuming bus services.

Except this, no other untoward incident was reported in the state, the report said.

When normal life came to a standstill, the opposition AIADMK, which had obtained a stay against today's bandh, moved the Supreme Court again this morning and complained that a ''bandh'' was being observed in the state, despite the stay order. Taking serious note of the ''disobedience'' of its order, the apex court warned that ''it amounted to nothing but contempt of court and observed that going ahead with the bandh call amounted to complete breakdown of constitutional machinery in the state and the UPA government should not shy away from imposing President rule''.

This made a turn around of the situation as Mr Karunanidhi chose to leave the fasting venue and buses started plying. Shops and commercial establishments, however, remained closed. The state limped back to normalcy after 1800 hrs.

Reacting to the Supreme Court warning, Mr Karunanidhi said there was no question of violating its order as it had not restrained the DMK-led DPA from observing fast.

There was no case before the court about the fast, he said adding after the apex court stayed the bandh, the ruling party had no option but to observe fast, demanding speedy implementation of SSCP.

Mr Karunanidhi, answering a question, rejected a suggestion that there was breakdown of constitutional machinery in the state.

''It may appear like that to you,'' he shot back, when newspersons sought his reaction to Supreme Court's remarks on breakdown of constitutional machinery in the state.

Normal life remained unaffected in the state and buses were plying, he claimed.

The Chief Minister was, however, not happy with the apex court's observation as he expressed dismay that several cases against AIADMK Supremo were pending and justice was delayed in those cases. ''We are living in a partisan environment,'' he lamented.

DPA leaders were also peeved at the apex court's strictures against the DMK government. Giving vent to their ire, they had a dig at the judiciary and demanded that it ''should stay within its limits''.

Meanwhile, trouble broke out at Mannarkudi in Tiruvarur district, when AIADMK volunteers burst crackers to celebrate the Supreme Court's observation. Taking objection to this, DMK volunteers pelted stones on them, forcing the police to fire few rounds in the air to disperse the clashing two groups.

A few stonepelting incidents were reported in Coimbatore, while the agitation passed off peacefully in all the southern districts, reports received here said.

Elsewhere in the state, DMK Ministers and district secretaries observed fast at taluk and district headquarters along with Congress, PMK, CPI(M), CPI, DPI, Indian Union Muslim League and Dravidar Kazhagam.

Winding up the fast in the city, senior DMK leader and Electricity Minister Arcot N Veerasamy said, referring to Supreme Court's threat of Government's dismissal, said, ''even if United Nations recommends, it will not be that easy to dismiss the DMK government.'' Taking a cue from the Supreme Court order, the AIADMK, its ally, the Marumalarchi DMK and Janata Party demanded the sacking of the DMK government in the wake of ''breakdown'' of constitutional machinery.

Janata Party President Dr Subramanian Swamy wrote to Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil to take note of the apex court order and discharge his constitutional duty.

The AIADMK, besides filing a complaint before the High Court about the observance of the ''bandh'', presented a memorandum to the Chief Secretary, demanding to restore normalcy and operate bus services.

 

UNI

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