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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2731

Sri Lanka Tamil issue echoes in Indian Parliament

By M Rama Rao, India Editor, Asian Tribune

New Delhi, 14 February ( Sri Lanka's ethnic issue is the flavour of the political season in Delhi. It was raised in the Indian Parliament and a day-long sit in and fast was observed very close to Parliament with the proponents describing the SL Tamil issue as a basic human problem and demanding that India should intervene to end the hostilities as they put it.

Significantly, neither CPI nor the BJP who raised the issue in Parliament's upper chamber, Rajya Sabha, and the lower house, Lok Sabha, and the MDMK workers led by Vaiko who staged the sit-in and fast took recourse to familiar expressions like 'Eelam War', 'military campaign', 'LTTE resistance', 'LTTE war', and 'Tamil war'. Instead every one described the 'campaign' as hostilities.

L. K. Advani, former deputy prime minister, whom the BJP is projecting as its Prime Minister candidate, told the MDMK workers that the Tamil issue in Sri Lanka was of concern to every Indian.

'It is an issue, which is of concern not only for Tamils in Tamil Nadu, but also for every Indian', he said, and accused Prime Minister Manmohan Singh government of being insensitive to the Sri Lankan Tamil's problem.

Advani told the Sri Lanka government that there could be no military solution to the Tamil issue and asked Colombo to search for a political settlement. 'Give more political power to the areas where Tamils are a majority for an effective responsive local government', the BJP strong-man said virtually echoing the stand taken by Manmohan Singh government.

The sit-in was a show of Vaiko, the MDMK chief, who is in alliance with Jayalalithaa Jayaram of AIADMK. Unlike him, she is opposed to LTTE. Their alliance is as much a reflection of local flavor in Tamil Nadu politics as the fact that LTTE is not a deciding factor though some commentators passionately hold a contrary view.

Vaiko told the gathering that Sri Lanka Tamil issue was a human problem. India, he said, should not hesitate to intervene in the island to end the 'hostilities' and protect the innocent Tamils. More than a decade ago, he had held a different opinion and was bitterly opposed to the presence of Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka. When IPKF was called back, neither he nor his mentor of the day, Karunanidhi was at the harbor to receive the returning soldiers.


Speaking in Parliament, D. Raja, national secretary, CPI, and S Thiruvavukarasar, BJP, termed the situation in Sri Lanka as a grave humanitarian crisis and asked External Affairs Minister, Pranab Mukherjee to talk to Colombo to ensure safety of displaced Tamils.

While Raja said, 'India cannot remain a mute spectator and should withdraw all types of military aid being provided to the Sri Lankan army', Thiruvavukarasar said 'India should raise the issue with the United Nations as no aid organizations are being allowed into the war –torn areas'.

Fellow Tamil and a junior minister for Parliamentary Affairs, V Naraynasamy, (Congress), intervening told the members that the Congress led government stand on the Sri Lanka Tamil issue was clearly spelt out in President Pratibha Patil's to Parliament on Feb 12. The address is a policy statement of the government and is prepared by the Cabinet.

Said Patil (in her address), 'India favored an immediate ceasefire and the issue should be resolve through negotiations.'

This has been the stand of Delhi in recent months. And so the Presidential observations have found favour with DMK chief and Tamil Nadu chief minister Karunanidhi.

Even PMK leadership also welcomed the address. Said Ramdoss senior, 'India should call upon Sri Lanka to unilaterally call for a ceasefire and work for a negotiated settlement'.

He also called for UN involvement through its agencies in the distribution of food, medicines and clothing amongst the families affected by the war.

- Asian Tribune -

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