In a show of strength after its assembly poll debacle last year, Opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam on Wednesday organised a 'fill the jails' drive protesting against the Jayalalithaa government "foisting" cases on its party leaders.
"The protest is a big success and there is a wave of dissatisfaction against the government," DMK chief M Karunanidhi said claiming over two lakh party workers courted arrest but police put the figure at 85,000.
Contesting Karunanidhi's claims that his party colleagues were facing false land grab cases, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said many such complaints had been received during the DMK regime but the then government had failed to act.
"But my government took serious efforts to retrieve the land and it is only natural that DMK leaders (accused of grabbing them) are affected in the process. Therefore, to divert the attention of people, the DMK chief had announced such a protest," she said in a statement.
While the Madurai bench of the high court had allowed preventive arrests, she had directed the police against doing so, Jayalalithaa said, adding the government considered it a 'useless exercise to arrest those who are fooling' people.
"Therefore, I directed police to release them and all the DMK supporters were accordingly let off," she said.
DMK's top leaders including Karunanidhi's son M K Stalin and daughter Kanimozhi and Lok Sabha MPs Dayanidhi Maran and T R Baalu and former ministers K N Nehru and E V Velu courted arrest in different parts of the state.
Karunanidhi, Stalin, Kanimozhi and Maran and other DMK leaders slammed the "vindictive politics" of the government.
No untoward incident was reported.