Don't blame it on Prabhakaran, Jaya tells Karunanidhi
All India Anna DMK general secretary J Jayalalitha has said Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK president M Karunanidhi cannot cover up his "betrayal" of the Sri Lankan Tamils by saying that LTTE leader V Prabhakaran had brought upon himself his own destruction and the end of the Eelam armed struggle.
In a statement, Ms Jayalalitha taking exception to Mr Karunanidhi's view that Prabhakaran brought it upon himself by killing fellow Tamil leaders like his own deputy Mahattaya, TULF's A Amirthalingam, Yogeswaran and Neelan Tiruchelvam, militants like Sri Sabaratnam of TELO and K Pathmanabha of EPRLF and numerous prominent Sri Lankan leaders, permanently alienating India by assassinating Rajiv Gandhi and provoking a war by enabling the victory of SLFP's Mahinda Rajapaksa over UNP's Ranil Wickremasinghe who had signed the February 20002 ceasefire agreement and promised a negotiated settlement of the ethnic conflict.
Ms Jayalalitha has said if Mr Karunanidhi really cared for the Sri Lankan Tamils, he should have threatened to pull out his MPs from the UPA in 2008 and thereby force the Indian Government to take firm steps for a ceasefire. Instead, DMK remained an integral part of the Government of Dr Manmohan Singh which supplied arms to the Sri Lankan government "to carry on its war against Tamils".
During that critical phase, Mr Karunanidhi at one stage called Prabhakaran his friend and not a terrorist and on another occasion expressed his helplessness to arrest the deteriorating situation on the war front in Sri Lanka.
Mocking at his claim that few would realize the silent agony he was undergoing (over the death of the Eelam movement), Ms Jayalalitha said the agony would become a "loud veil" if his family's interests were at stake.
The war of words is the latest in the series which started with the assassination of Mr Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991. Ms Jayalalitha's AIADMK, then aligned with the Congress, was swept to power in Tamil Nadu in a wave of sympathy generated by the assassiantion of a young leader, that too on Tamil Nadu soil. Since then until the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, she remained aconsistent critic of the LTTE, claiming rightly that she was responsible for the crackdown on the LTTE and its supporters and in getting the group banned as a terrorist outfit. In the same breath, she said quite often Mr Karunanidhi anti-national by covertly and overtly supporting the LTTE.
Mr Karunanidhi's standard response used to be her own interview given in early 1987 to a couple of English newspapers published from here in which she said, that unlike her mentor and AIADMK founder M G Ramachandran, Mr Karunanidhi had given little help to the LTTE and that if anything happened to Prabhakaran, "rivers of blood will flow in Tamil Nadu".
This rhetoric was used by MDMK's Vaiko in the run-up to the latest Parliament elections in May 2009, provoking Tamil daily Dinamalar to ask tongue in cheek, “Why should more blood flow in Tamil Nadu when already enough blood has been spilt in Sri Lanka and in what way a bloodbath in Tamil Nadu will help the Sri Lankan Tamils.
As the Eelam war raced towards climax, political players changed their posturing from time to time. Thus Ms Jayalalitha, at a time when she wanted to wean the Congress away from the DMK fold, said in the only sensible statement she had made in a surcharged atmosphere that no attempt should be made to bail out the LTTE by calling for a ceasefire in the name of protecting innocent Tamil civilians. She also said that the armed struggle had lost it way long ago and the only way forward was settlement through talks.
Once the Congress cold-shouldered her overtures, Ms Jayalalitha became a militant champion of the LTTE cause overnight by using the same cover she had denounced earlier, namely protection of innocent Tamils caught in the conflict.
In order not to be outdone, Mr Karunanidhi gave a one-month ultimatum to the Government of India in October last year to do something or face withdrawal of his party MPs. The charade was carried to such comical proportions that even his daughter Kanimozhi, a member of the Upper House whose vote will not decide the fate of the Government, was among the first to tender her resignation, not to the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, but to Mr Karunanidhi. The day Parliament session ended, redoubtable T R Baalu took a contingent of all DMK MPs to Chennai and they submitted their resignation with a flourish in the presence of a big contingent of the media.
The Government of India, for once, refused to cave in to such theatrical maneuvers and the then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee flew down to Chennai, a day or so before the expiry of the so-called deadline, and told Mr. Karunanidhhi a few home truths. The result: the resignation threat petered out.
When the fall of the LTTE looked imminent in May this year, Mr. Karunanidhi sat on a fast after an early morning breakfast, sending alarm bells ringing, given his age and numerous ailments.
The result was an announcement by Colombo that offensive weapons would not be used in the war. What was glossed over was that there was no need for such weapons any more as the LTTE had all but been vanquished and what was required to be done was mopping up operations for which small arms would suffice. But like a drowning man clutching at the straw, Mr. Karunanidhi seized upon that announcement as some kind of a truce and called off his fast, coincidentally by lunch time.
The biggest irony is that despite the attempt by various mainline parties to make Sri Lanka an issue in the Parliament elections, the people of Tamil Nadu voted with their head, not their hearts, and the result was the victory of the Congress-DMK alliance not only in the State but all over the country, leading to the formation of a second UPA Government, this time with a more powerful Congress not amenable to pressure from regional allies like the DMK.
It was this, besides the fact that there is no LTTE threat now as Prabhakaran is dead and gone, which emboldened an otherwise weak-kneed Mr Karunanidhi to come out boldly against the movement.
- Asian Tribune -