Indian politicians fish in troubled-waters in affairs of Lankan Tamils
By Satheesan Kumaaran
Wednesday, February 12, 2008
Some Indian politicians, especially, those from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, attempt to gain some mileage through a vilification campaign against the just struggle of the Tamils in the Northeast of Sri Lanka. There was a time when politicians of all shades fell over each other to issue statements in favour of Eelam Tamils, but the killing of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 changed all that. The killing of Rajiv Gandhi was exploited by Ms. Jayalalithaa to win the elections in 1991. She later claimed she had won the elections due to her own popularity and not because of Rajiv Gandhi.
The leader of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the current chief minister of Tamil Nadu, Muthuvel Karunanidhi, claimed to see the LTTE 'in two eras': The first, before the death of Rajiv Gandhi and, the second, after his death. Despite these claims, his friends and colleagues know very well about his political manoeuvres and manipulations.
Thiru Karunanidhi never supported the LTTE. He supported another Tamil militant group called, 'TELO', which was acting against the LTTE leadership at the behest of RAW. Following the annihilation of the TELO leadership, the second rank TELO leadership under Selvam Adaikalanthan had to join the LTTE. He correctly thought that Tamils in Sri Lanka could not win their freedom by isolating the LTTE, as they had emerged as the only formidable and credible capably of fighting a conventional war. They had all three armed forces.
Karunanidhi is a seasoned and cunning politician with years of political experience, and a disciple of both Thanthai Periyar and C.N. Annadurai. In the early 1980s, when chief minister of Tamil Nadu, Karunanidhi handed over militants like Kuttimani and Thangathurai to the Sri Lankan government following their escape to Tamil Nadu and being declared wanted men in Sri Lanka for their militant activities against Sri Lankan government, they belonged to the TELO.
When the Sri Lankan courts condemned them to death, Muththuvel Karunandhi shed tears regretting having extradited them to Sri Lanka. During the 1983 anti-Tamil riots, Sinhalese prisoners with the help of prison staff killed them along with 53 other Tamil inmates. They gorged their eyes because they told the court that their last wish was to donate their eyes to others who would survive to see an independent 'Tamil Eelam'.
Karunanidhi began to support the TELO leadership under Sri Sabaratnam, who was allegedly gunned down by the LTTE in 1986 for betraying Tamil Eelam demands. This angered Karunanidhi. M. G. Ramachandran (popularly known as MGR), who was the Chief Minister helped the LTTE morally and financially from day one. Karunanidhi was the leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly and, to outsmart MGR, he organized a mammoth rally in Madurai in support of the Eelam cause. On his birthday, he invited all Tamil militant groups to hand over cash gifts, but LTTE turned its back on him. This angered Karunanidhi and he blamed MGR for supporting the LTTE, which had gunned down fellow militants affiliated to other militant organizations. But MGR openly supported the LTTE by donating a staggering four crores of rupees of his own money.
The AIADMK formed by MGR is now under the control of actress-turned politician, Jeyaram Jayalalithaa. Following the death of MGR in 1988, MGR's legal wife, Janaki, served as chief minister of Tamil Nadu for a brief period. But, Jayalalithaa then took control of the AIADMK party by claiming that she was the legal heir of MGR. She claimed she had close relationship with MGR.
Following the demise of MGR, the LTTE continued to receive support from AIADMK. She called upon the government to take actions to protect LTTE leader Pirapaharan. But, once Jayalalithaa felt secure within the AIADMK, she turned against the LTTE.
After the killing of Rajiv Gandhi, politics reached a boiling point in Tamil Nadu. Karunanidhi's government was dismissed by the Centre in 1990 following accusations that law and order had broken down in the state.
As a matter of fact, the real motive behind the dismissal of the DMK government was not due to law and order issues, but to help Jayalalithaa to capture power. A grief-stricken Tamil Nadu people cast their votes to AIADMK and its allies giving them every seat except one, which went to the DMK leader Karunanidhi, who subsequently resigned. To show her loyalty to the voters and the Indian central government, Jayalalithaa announced that she was taking actions against Eelam refugees. She let lose the police on the innocent Tamil refugees living in Tamil Nadu considered sympathetic to the LTTE. She ordered all refugees to register with local police stations and called upon property owners not to rent houses to Eelam Tamils.
The cunning politician Karunanidhi outwitted Jayalalithaa in spreading lies against LTTE. He even expelled his senior man, Vaiko, for supporting the LTTE. This led Vaiko to form the MDMK.
After the LTTE and Sri Lankan government signed a CFA in 2002, the situation in Tamil Nadu changed. The voices of small political parties and NGOs were heard loud and clear when they began to campaign in support of Eelam Tamils. Sri Lankan government's atrocities against journalists, scholars, businessmen, and civilians created a sense of empathy for the LTTE in Tamil Nadu. The LTTE's successful attack on Anuradhapura air-base created a sense of hope among the Tamil Nadu people.
(The author can be reached at e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Source: Midweek Review (The Island)