Chennai: Protests in Tamil Nadu over the central government’s failure to set up the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) are expected to intensify this week, with marches by opposition parties, a growing demand to boycott Indian Premier League (IPL) matches in Chennai and a planned black flag demonstration against Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 12 April.
Taking a cue from the recent farmers’ march in Maharashtra, opposition parties in Tamil Nadu led by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) began a ‘Cauvery Rights Retrieval March’ near Trichy on Saturday, whose second phase would start at Ariyalur on Monday. Both marches will end with a public meeting in Cuddalore on 12 April.
“It was in 1938 that Periyar (E.V. Ramasamy) flagged off a rally from Trichy to Chennai that stopped the imposition of Hindi. Today, from the same Trichy, we have started this rally and will definitely succeed," said DMK’s working president M.K. Stalin on Saturday.
Meanwhile, T.T.V. Dhinakaran who heads the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) began a march in Dharmapuri on Saturday. He will hold demonstrations across the state and will end with a rally in Nagapattinam on 27 April.
With tension escalating between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka over the Cauvery issue, governor Banwarilal Purohit’s move to appoint M.K. Surappa of Karnataka as the vice-chancellor of Anna University in Tamil Nadu has also irked opposition parties.
The widespread protests in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry over the Cauvery row culminated in a day-long bandh on Thursday. Farmers’ associations, students’ organizations, lawyers, individuals and various other outfits have jumped in over the past week, with road and rail blockades and attempts to lay siege to central government buildings.
There is also growing demand from political parties to boycott the IPL matches at M.A. Chidambaram stadium in Chennai with some political outfits saying they will disrupt the matches.
In the last one week, the walls in Chennai that were painted with the “Whistle Podu" slogan of the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) team have been changed into “We want Cauvery" and “Cauvery is our Right". The home team takes on Kolkata Knight Riders in Chennai on Tuesday.
While Stalin has asked the IPL authorities to take into consideration the people’s sentiment, Dhinakaran recently urged people to boycott IPL as a mark of protest. Joining them in the demand was actor-turned politician Rajinikanth, who on Sunday said: “It would be an embarrassment if IPL matches are held during this time, when Tamil Nadu is protesting (for CMB). The CSK team should at least wear black arm bands during the game to send the message across the country."
He added: “If the centre fails to constitute the CMB, it would win the wrath of the people of Tamil Nadu."