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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2963

Is the LTTE cultivating Karunanidhi …..

By M Rama Rao - Reporting for Asian Tribune from New Delhi

New Delhi, 18 January ( For quite a well a question is doing the rounds of Chennai political scene. And it is related to the LTTE factor in the Tamil Nadu politics.

A UK based writer and human rights activist, who would like not to be identified for security reasons, after visiting Chennai said LTTE influence has become pronounced in the city and elsewhere in the state. She did not elaborate on what basis she reached the conclusion. She held the view that a large percentage of Tamil Diaspora who was in Chennai during the music festival season was in fact interested in LTTE politics. 'Is this not a sweeping generalization', I asked her. She did not agree.

Another comment, she made in the freewheeling interview carried out on telephone was that LTTE has become active on the immigration circuit. The modus operandi, according to her, is ingenious. The Tigers are facilitating the emigration of people from southern Tamil Nadu pockets like Madurai and Ramnathapuram.

While remaining short on specifics the writer-activist said the emigrants are sent out as ethnic Sri Lankan Tamils through a network of travel agents friendly to the Tigers. "It is this group of Tamil Diaspora who has become a source of funds (to the LTTE)", she said.

There are reports in the local media in Chennai and also here in a section of the Delhi papers that the LTTE is 'fishing' for political support in Tamil Nadu. The game is to make Chennai exert its influence on Delhi so that pressure can be brought to bear on Sri Lankan government, these reports aver.

For long V Gopalasamy, popularly known as Vaiko is known as the point’s man for LTTE. He too never hesitated to proclaim his LTTE fixation, notwithstanding the troubles he had to face like for instance a jail term during the Jayalalithaa reign. Politically, Vaiko is at present in the dog house what with a split in his MDMK party. To that extent his utilitarian value has come under a cloud, according to observers.

It is against this backdrop the recent visit to Chennai of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MPs from Colombo and their meeting with Chief Minister Karunanidhi acquires significance. It was their second visit in as many months and their first meeting with Karunanidhi. On the earlier visit, he refused to give them audience, but this time around he ensured that even Prime Minister meets them though at short notice.

The visit took place at a time when things were not going the LTTE way back home in Sri Lanka. Possibility of Tigers losing the strategically important Vaharai in the restive East was very much on cards, as the TNA law makers, who are known as Tigers proxies, left Colombo.

Another coincidence and, therefore, a factor bound to influence Tamil Nadu politicians was the exodus of ethnic Tamilians from Vaharai in the Batticaloa district. Expectedly the Tigers attributed the exodus to the shelling by Sri Lankan army. It is a different matter that Colombo had held the Tigers responsible for the exodus and accused them of using civilians as their shield.

Reports in Tamil papers in Chennai say that the Vaharai situation swayed the local sentiment and made Chief Minister Karunanidhi to reappraise his policy vis-à-vis LTTE. The Tigers also used the death of their ideologue Antony Balasingham and the presence of Karunanidhi's apolitical daughter Kanimozhi at one of the condolence meetings held in Chennai to build bridges with the DMK chief. There is no independent corroboration for this line of assessment, though.

The Tigers on their part have gone to the town thanking Muthavel Karunanidhi for sending his condolences on the death of Balasingham. They also loudly hailed his Sri Lanka policy as realistic and practical.

There is a school of thought here that says that Tigers have few options on the Chennai scene. They cannot go to Jayalalithaa, the AIADMK supremo and former chief minister despite the presence of Vaiko in her camp. Karunanidhi, therefore, for them is the man of the moment, this school says with some conviction.

Any takers?

- Asian Tribune -

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