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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2584

Lanka moves to centre stage of TN politics; Karunanidhi, Ramdoss locked in wordy duel

By M Rama Rao, India Editor, Asian Tribune

New Delhi, 19 April (Asiantribune.com): As Colombo is going ahead ignoring the international appeals for a ‘longer pause’ in the Vanni war, Tamil Nadu is witnessing a wordy duel amongst major political parties on who cares most for the ethnic Tamils of the neighboring island nation. From sidelines the issue has moved to the centre stage with Tami Nadu geared to vote on May 13 in the Lok Sabha elections.

Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has asked the Manmohan Singh government to snap all diplomatic relations with Rajapaksa government if it did not honor India's latest appeal for a ceasefire in the embattled northern parts.

PMK founder Dr Ramdoss promptly commented: this is what we (PMK) have been demanding for the last six months –‘snapping ties with Sri Lanka in view of the continuous war against innocent Tamils there’.

Turning the heat on Muthavel Karunanidhi, his ally till PMK switched allegiance to the AIADMK camp, Ramdoss asked: ‘Will DMK snap ties with Congress if Delhi fails to heed Karunanidhi’s plea. And put the blame at the door step of the Congress for the plight of ethnic Tamils in Lanka, saying that the Congress was the traitor in the Sri Lankan Tamils issue

Karunanidhi was not amused by the diatribe. He wasted no time to snub Ramdoss, who he said, had remained an ally of the very Congress at the Centre and was a part of the government for more than four and a half years.

He had several rhetorical questions too to the PMK leader who too had posed questions in the same vein. All these questions boil to how many times the SL Tamil issue was raised in the Union Cabinet. Ramdoss has tried to corner the Congress leader from the state P Chidambaram, who is now the home minister.

Karunanidhi, who was invited by President Rajapaksa to visit Vanni area, picked up the cudgels on behalf of the Congress. ‘How many times has the PMK’s representative in the Union Cabinet raised the issue in Cabinet meetings’, he asked, remarking that the Sri Lankan Tamils issue did not concern only the Congress and the DMK.

According to the DMK chief, the PMK representative, health minister, did not raise the issue in the Union Cabinet. ‘Yet, why did PMK supremo allow his son to continue as health minister in the Congress led government’.

‘If he had asked his son to resign, we can believe that he is honest’, Karunanidhi wrote in DMK party’s mouthpiece 'Murasoli'. And added that the Tamils across the world would know if he or Dr. Ramadoss was the traitor in the Sri Lankan Tamils issue

Jayalalithaa Jayaram of the AIADMK is also firing from the ‘Tamil gun’ at the Congress and the DMK. Like Karunanidhi, she also had received an invitation to visit Vanni. She has been blaming the Centre for the policy muddle as she puts it. Though the AIADMK is a bitter critic of the LTTE and its Eelam demand, the party’s manifesto says ‘Eelam, homeland for Tamils in Lanka is inevitable if their genuine aspirations are not met and if they are not treated with dignity and honour’.

It is enough ammunition for the DMK patriarch to take Jayalalithaa to task and snipe at Ramdoss. In his column, he said in so many words that Jayalalithaa was also responsible for the loss of innocent lives in the Eelam war. He recalled that the AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa had supported the current offensive by the Sri Lankan Army and said it is common for innocents to be killed in a war.

Taking a dig at the PML for forging an alliance with AIADMK, the chief minister said, ‘Dr Ramadoss has struck an alliance with her party. People will understand what sort of person he is now’.

Karunanidhi, who has been raising ‘my voice for the Sri Lankan Tamils cause from 1956 onwards’, has welcomed the latest Pranab appeal to Colombo to respond to the Tamil civilian problem.

‘We welcome with gratitude the appeal made by the External Affairs Minister for ceasefire in Sri Lanka. If the appeal for ceasefire is not honoured and implemented by the Sri Lanka government, we request the government of India to snap all diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka’, Tamilnadu chief minister, who has been kept in the loop of Delhi’s policy towards Colombo, said in identical telegrams to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Karunanidhi has been demanding a permanent ceasefire and an amicable solution to the ethnic strife within the framework of a unified Sri Lanka with minority Tamils treated on par with the Sinhalese. He has also been saying that the LTTE should reciprocate the ceasefire offers made by the Sri Lankan government to enable Tamil civilians to crossover to 'no war zones.'

Karunanidhi said the DMK had lost power twice over its support for the Sri Lankan Tamils. But there was no certainty that peace would return to the island nation if the party lost power for a third time

PMK leader has disputed the Karunanidhi contention. According to him, in 1976 the DMK Government was dismissed ‘on corruption issue as reported in all sections of the press’ and in 1991 ‘it was 'political reason’. LTTE was also one of the reasons for the 1991 dismissal, he said.

TNA Appeal

M K Shivaji lingam, a member of the Tamil National Alliance (Jaffna district), told reporters in Chennai on Saturday that India should take immediate steps to ensure a permanent ceasefire in his country.

‘While many countries are calling for a permanent ceasefire in Sri Lanka, India has not been taking any concrete measures’ he said and hoped ‘India will not orphan us’.

He welcomed the pressure Karunanidhi is exerting on Delhi and said Karunanidhi should keep pressing the Centre on the issue.

The TNA leader expressed the view that the United Nations should step in defuse the crisis and if necessary it should send a peace team ‘for bringing about a solution in a political way’.

BJP Front

Spurned as of now by the DMK and the AIADMK, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has formed its own grouping in Tamil Nadu to face the Lok Sabha polls.

It has closed ranks with actor -politician Sarath Kumar's All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi (AISMK), the one-man Janata Party of maverick Subramanian Swamy, and Nadalum Makkal Katchi (NMK) headed by actor Karthik

Senior BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu, while announcing the formation of the front, said, that Subramanian Swamy’s party would not contest the election but will extend full support for the front.

He also announced the seat sharing by the allies.

AISMK will contest in Tuticorin, Tirunelveli, Tenkasi (Res), Namakkal and Tirupur, while NMK will fight for Virudhunagar and Theni seats. The BJP will contest in 13 constituencies.

BJP opened its account in Tamil Nadu in 1998 when it entered the fray as an ally of AIADMK. It had won three seats. The 1999 election saw BJP as DMK ally and win in alliance with AIADMK. The next year, it joined the rival DMK front and won four seats.
Luck deserted the BJP in 2004 when it aligned with the AIADMK.

-Asian Tribune-

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