Eelam politics – empty rhetoric and perceived threats - II
by B R Haran on 12 Apr 2009 2 Comments

The DMK-led Democratic Progressive Alliance organized a massive rally on Thursday 9 April, which culminated in a function where DPA leaders including Chief Minister M.  Karunanidhi spoke in support of Sri Lankan Tamils. Dravidar Kazhagam president K. Veeramani warned opposition leaders against politicizing the issue and said the people were well aware of their double-speak merely to garner votes.

VCK president Tirumavalavan, who on Wednesday said Congress president Sonia Gandhi was the last resort for the Tamils, now said the Tamils have nobody other than the Chief Minister to put an end to the “genocide” going on in Sri Lanka. DMK general secretary and finance minister K. Anbazhagan, despite the fact that his party is a trusted ally of Congress and a part of the UPA government, said the rally was meant to send a strong message to the Centre regarding the feelings of Tamil people, so it could take appropriate action to stop the war in the island.  

Karunanidhi’s appeal to Sonia

Mr Karunanidhi made a fervent appeal to Sonia Gandhi to ensure an immediate ceasefire, “Please save the Tamils quickly, Oh Mother!” (viraivil thamizharkalaik kaappaatrungal thaaye!).

Saying he was not happy presiding over such a function, he candidly stated, “All of you have been requesting me to find out a way to end the war in Sri Lanka, but I feel confused, being unable to find a way out. I have been fighting for the cause of Tamils for the last sixty years and Sri Lankan Tamils issue is not new to me. We have sacrificed our assembly memberships before and sacrificing this government again for the cause is not difficult for us. But, in the event of President’s rule, those who speak against Sonia and the sovereignty of this country will be punished. So, for their sake and only to save them, I am not sacrificing this government.” 

An old episode


Remembering his meeting with Sri Lankan Tamil leaders Selvanayakam and Amirthalingam in 1974, he said, “we committed to them that we would support and extend all sorts of cooperation to them. They also met DK President EVR Periyaar then, who frankly told them that he could not help them as he was also a ‘slave’ like them. That statement of EVR holds good even at the present circumstances, as I am also in the same position now.”

Karunanidhi did not clarify his claim. It is not clear why EVR felt he was a slave in an independent and democratic country like India , and why Karunanidhi finds himself a slave even now when he is ruling the State and is a part of the Centre as well. Reminding the audience about Indra Gandhi’s relationship with Sri Lanka, he said, “Sonia’s voice must transform into Indira’s voice and she must take quick decisions like her mother-in-law considering the prevailing conditions. Hence, I request Sonia Gandhi to immediately decide, act and save the Tamils.” 

AIADMK government’s resolution

Recalling the resolution passed by the previous Jayalalithaa regime for apprehending and punishing LTTE chief Prabhakaran, Karunanidhi said, “If at all the LTTE gets defeated in the war and if Prabhakaran is apprehended, I request Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa to treat Prabhakaran like a war hero and a king.”

Drawing a parallel with the historical episode of Greek Emperor Alexander treating Porus as a great warrior and king, he said, “I request Rajapaksa to treat Prabhakaran like how Alexander treated Porus. Instead, if Rajapaksa attempts to destroy the Tamil community in Sri Lanka, history will not forgive him and he must allow the Tamils to live with dignity and self respect. He must understand that those who have presided over ethnic cleansing have been consigned to the dustbin of history.” 

Karunanidhi’s covert act of treason

While MDMK leader Vaiko made a reference to “Siriperumbudur,” warning the Centre of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, Karunanidhi refrained from talking about it. His talk bordered on covert support for Prabhakaran.

Had Karunanidhi respected the sovereignty and rule of law of this country, he should have requested President Rajapaksa to deport Prabhakaran to India. His request for treating the LTTE chief like a king, even after recalling the resolution passed by the previous AIADMK government in the Assembly, augurs ill for his constitutional position and stature.

If Vaiko’s talk amounts to treason, the same holds good for Karunanidhi. He was the first person to write an elegy for slain LTTE leader Tamilarasan last year! The AICC passed a resolution against it!

Pro-Alexander and Pro-Porus

The comparison of Rajapaksa with Alexander has not gone down well with the pro-LTTE parties. PMK leader Dr Ramadoss said Karunanidhi’s statement shamed Tamils worldwide, “instead of raising his voice for ending the war, he has attempted to write an epilogue to the war itself.”

Tamil Nationalist Movement president P. Nedumaran criticized Karunanidhi for saying the LTTE would be defeated, and said that he backstabbed Lankan Tamils with this malicious statement. CPI leader D. Pandian dwelled upon the history of Alexander and ridiculed Karunanidhi for acting like King Ambi of Taxila, with whose help Alexander crossed the ferocious Jhelum to wage war with Porus. He said, “Karunanidhi is the present day Ambi and he is helping Rajapaksa to defeat Prabhakaran.” Vaiko was more vociferous, “Karunanidhi’s comparison of Rajapaksa with Alexander is not at all appropriate and it clearly shows that he is a ‘traitor’ working against the Tamils.” 

While pro-LTTE leaders focused on Rajapaksa vis-à-vis Alexander, Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy felt Karunanidhi’s comparison of Prabhakaran with Porus was inappropriate. Dr Swamy said, “King Porus had put himself in front of the civilian population and did not hide behind innocent civilians holding them hostage, like what Prabhakaran is doing today.” The truth in Dr Swamy’s observation can be seen from various reports from Sri Lanka. King Porus never recruited children in his Army and was prepared for the ultimate sacrifice. He did not kill his own brethren either! Karunanidhi has insulted the great King Porus by comparing him with Prabhakaran.     

MDMK’s future

Meanwhile, Vaiko has been booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment Act (2004), Section 505 (1) (B) and Section 13 (1) (B), but has not been arrested so far.

It may be recalled that Vaiko’s party colleague Nanjil Sampath and film director Seeman have already been arrested under NSA. It has to be seen if NSA will be slapped on Vaiko, as demanded by Dr Subramanian Swamy.

While Vaiko’s alliance parties like PMK, CPI and CPIM have steered clear of his treasonous statements, alliance leader and AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa has so far maintained silence. She must be wondering what to do in the event of Vaiko’s arrest.

Mr. Karunanidhi may use this opportunity to demolish MDMK by arresting Vaiko under NSA, as the party is already sans leaders. If that happens, Jayalalithaa may shunt MDMK out of the coalition and place her own candidates in all four constituencies assigned to MDMK, as without Vaiko the party will be of no use to her. Vaiko’s Wednesday misadventure must be weighing on her mind; she will be aware that Vaiko’s arrest will not have much impact on the electorate and the alliance may not gain out of it. 

Vaiko’s secret trip to Sri Lanka to meet LTTE chief Prabhakaran in 1989, without the knowledge of his party president Karunanidhi, caused his exit from DMK within the next few years, along with the allegation that he conspired to liquidate Karunanidhi. He launched the MDMK in 1993. It has always been alleged in political circles that the party was run with financial help from the LTTE.

MDMK grew with the LTTE and it may also end with the LTTE as things stand today in Tamil Nadu. 

The author is a senior journalist; he lives in Chennai

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