Tamil film organisation polls put off

Chennai, May 11 Elections to the Tamil Film Directors' Association were postponed Sunday for an indefinite period after threats of violence from non-members, industry sources said.

Sunday, May 11, 2008 | 7:15:42 PM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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Chennai, May 11 (IANS) Elections to the Tamil Film Directors' Association were postponed Sunday for an indefinite period after threats of violence from non-members, industry sources said.

Election returning officer A. Mohan announced the postponement after V. Shekhar, a contestant for the treasurer's post, filed a police complaint alleging threats of violence from a group of non-members.

A police station in the southwest suburbs acknowledged the complaint. No arrests were, however, made so far.

The polls may take place only after the association's extraordinary general body meeting dates of which will be announced later, said an association press communique.

Trouble arose Saturday night when a group of non-member assistant directors, led by N. Radhakrishnan and 'Baba', threatened supporters of outgoing president S.A. Chandrasekhar as well as contestants like R.C. Shakti, Ameer Jan, R.K. Selvamani and K. Bhagyaraj with dire consequences.

The group, which allegedly has the backing of the grandson of a political leader, says that despite being part of the association for years, their grievances were never addressed and that is why they want to contest the election.

The threats continued Sunday as well, police sources said.

'We were prepared to ensure the peaceful conduct of the elections and posted over 30 personnel since yesterday (Saturday) night to maintain law and order. But, when the association decided to postpone elections to avoid violence, we withdrew,' a senior police official said.

'Association members are sharply divided. The main groups are aligned to Chandrasekhar, Bharati Raja (supported by Tamil Nadu's ruling DMK), Shakti, who is considered to be close to the camp of followers of thespian Kamal Haasan and others who owe allegiance to actor-politician Sarath Kumar, who is heading an independent political party opposed to the DMK. But all the groups jointly opposed the interference of non-members,' the official added.

Despite it being the poorest body within the umbrella organisation Film Employees' Federation of South India (FEFSI) that rules the industry, control over the Directors' Association is always a bone of contention, sources aware of the finances and internal workings of the association told IANS.

'The political divide in the film industry has become more pronounced following the Tamil film industry's protest 'fast' on April 4 against Karnataka's opposition to the Hogenekkal Water Supply Scheme led by the South Indian Artistes' Association - a body headed by Sarath Kumar without the concurrence and support of FEFSI,' a source said.

'The piquant situation during today's polls is yet another manifestation of the issue because it is a combination of the entire south film industry while a Chennai-based faction is bent upon giving it a Tamil colour,' the source added.

Ace director Bharati Raja, one of the contestants in Sunday's postponed polls, criticised the fast and Sarath Kumar for demanding explanation from film personalities who did not take part in it.

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