Rejecting charges of the DMK that the State government was “gagging” people to prevent them from speaking up against various schemes, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami claimed in the Assembly on Monday that his government was in fact being “patient” with all criticisms.

Mr. Palaniswami maintained that though over 90% of the people supported the Salem-Chennai green corridor project, “a few belonging to some political parties” were deliberately opposing the project.

Responding to DMK leader M.K. Stalin, who raised the issue of police action against various political leaders in the House, Mr. Palaniswami claimed that freedom of expression and speech were in fact being protected under his government.

As for Mr. Stalin’s claim that the government was “gagging” those who sought to speak up against various schemes, Mr. Palaniswami claimed it was only because of the AIADMK that people were able to voice their opinion over various issues. He contended that his government extended protection to those protesting over various issues.

Denial of permission

Mr. Stalin referred to the denial of permission to Tamil Maanila Congress for organising a meeting and to Pattali Makkal Katchi leader MP Anbumani Ramadoss to visit his Dharmapuri constituency. He also raised the issue of detention of former MLA and CPI (M) leader K. Bala Bharathi, the arrest and remand of Aam Aadmi Party State unit leader S.A.N. Vaseegaran, and the arrest of a reporter of
, in connection with the Chennai-Salem green corridor project.

Mr. Stalin asked if the State government was under any compulsion and why was it intolerant towards those opposing various schemes. “History has shown how autocratic governments have fallen,” he said, adding that arrests and cracking down on protesters would not achieve anything.

Mr. Palaniswami, however, said that Ms. Bala Bharathi was detained when she interacted with farmers and made some remarks [against the green corridor project] though she had initially said that she only wanted to visit the areas through which the corridor would pass through. She and the others were released later in the day.

Permission was denied to a meeting of the TMC and also to Mr. Anbumani since the police thought such meetings and visits would affect law and order. However, the PMK MP did meet the people in Salem, the Chief Minister said.

After listing out various benefits the project would bring to the people of the State, the CM renewed his appeal to all to extend cooperation for the project.

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