Monday, November 15, 2010

Tension in Raja's hometown

PERAMBALUR: Unrest prevailed in Perambalur, the hometown of Union communications minister A Raja, after a poster war broke out between the DMK and AIADMK over the spectrum allocation controversy.

Perambalur, about 280 km from Chennai, has started facing the heat of the political storm around Raja as DMK men walked along the road near the new bus stand on Sunday afternoon brandishing logs. Women panicked and watched in shock as the men shouting derogatory slogans against AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa, who has been stridently demanding Raja's ouster, started tearing the flex boards erected by AIADMK men.

An AIADMK youth was also attacked by a mob of DMK men. This led to AIADMK mobilizing its cadres at its district office to retaliate, but they gave up even as their rivals started blocking the road and burning an effigy of Jayalalithaa.

For the people of Perambalur, the spectrum scandal was something much removed from their daily life, but the day's events came as a shock. Locals found it distressing that the police stood by as mute witnesses as agitators went on a rampage pulling down flex boards and blocking the road. "I don't know about spectrum or whether Raja is corrupt. But are all other politicians clean? I don't think he should resign," said Ramalinga Chettiar, a fruit vendor.

"For a politician synonymous with DMK in Perambalur for more than a decade and an icon for dalits here, Raja should quit to prove his integrity," said a lecturer in a private college.

M Pari, DMK union secretary alleged that AIADMK men engaged in "mischievous propaganda" to tarnish Raja's image. "Police should arrest those behind the posters stuck all over the town,'' he said. However, AIADMK men claimed that their posters were only in retaliation for another set of posters pasted by DMK men slamming Jayalalithaa for "corruption". The AIADMK posters demanded that Raja resign.

This is the second incident that has rocked the town in the last few days over Raja. A few days ago, a group of DMK men pelted stones into a hall where the AIADMK was holding a meeting. "The DMK could not digest the success of our campaign to send telegrams en masse to President of India. Our demand is fair. How can a person facing such an allegation continue as minister?" asked K Devaraj, a former MLA.

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