NEW DELHI: Tamil Nadu’s concern with agrarian distress was evident today as the state shut down in response to a call by DMK leader MK Stalin and the Opposition parties even as the 200 odd farmers who had been protesting in Delhi for 41 days returned to their home state.

Stalin was arrested as soon as it became clear that his strike call was getting a strong response from all sections, including trade unions, traders, farmer unions as well as the film fraternity. He was taken into custody in Thurvarur along with top leaders from his party. The farmers supported the strike call in the same area by lying across train tracks. The markets remained shut and even while petrol pumps were open, in many of these the workers wore black bands in support of the strike.

The 200 farmers while largely ignored by the governments in Tamil Nadu and Delhi, had a massive impact on the people, more so as they returned empty handed with just some assurances from a panicky Chief Minister who visited them at Jantar Mantar in an attempt to make them call off their strike. Worried about the success of the strike called by Stalin, CM Edappadi K.Palaniswami rushed to meet the farmers who agreed to suspend their protest by a month. But this, according to them, was more to join the strike than out of any conviction that their demands would be met, more so as there has been no assurance from the central leaders.

Tamil Nadu is in the middle of what is being dubbed as the worst drought in a century and a half, with at least 20 farmers having committed suicide. The desperation drove the farmers to camp in New Delhi but despite the steady escalation of the protest, they did not get a commitment that their demands both long and short term would be met.

Stalin, was supported by the Congress and the Left parties, and is clearly the successor who will be leading the DMK into the next elections. The very fact that the state could suspend its activities for the farmers is an indication that this issue has become a major cause of concern, and the AIADMK in the midst of a factional war along with the BJP has been placed on the defensive.

Stalin has also zeroed in on theimposition of Hindi by Delhi as an issue that has always managed to acquire emotive connotations in the Tamil speaking state. On March 3- he released a lengthy statement accusing the BJP government of “bringing Hindi hegemony through the backdoor.” He warned that the centre would face another anti-Hindi agitation in the state if it persisted with this policy.

And more recently, just about three days ago, Stalin took this further by posting a video on his Twitter account where he said that the PM Modi government at the centre had been trying to impose Hindi, and was violating the Constitution and the rights of the non-Hindi speaking citizens of the country.

"The BJP government has also obtained permission from the President for usage of Hindi in Airport announcements, press news and advertisements and going one step further have made Hindi a compulsory subject for CBSE schools across the country,"Stalin said. And expressed concern that this appeared to be the rule, and not an exception.

"By forcing Hindi onto its citizens - from Primary school students to Parliament, the BJP government is betraying all non-Hindi speaking residents of the country including future generations," the DMK leader said.

And added,”I condemn the efforts taken so far in this pursuit - on behalf of the DMK and of all non-Hindi speaking citizens of this nation." And warned the centre, “not to sow seeds of emergence of third generation Anti-Hindi Imposition protests through its brute force maneuvers to push India into becoming Hindia.”