Protest against Rajapaksa’s visit won't help the Tamil cause

  • Hindustan Times
  • Updated: May 22, 2014 23:17 IST

There are times when parochial domestic concerns ought to be put aside in the greater national good. This is one such time. A new government is coming in and it is only natural that it will reach out to the neighbouring countries.

So, Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi has invited Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to attend his swearing-in ceremony on Monday. But no sooner did this news come, and the Tamil parties are up in arms over the possible hurt to the sentiments of the Tamils.

This is posturing at best and poor politics at worst.

Mr Rajapaksa is the elected president of a friendly country and an event like the one on Monday cannot be held hostage to these misplaced sentiments. The Tamil issue has long been raised by Tamil parties which have styled themselves as spokesmen for the Sri Lankan Tamils.

There is no doubt that the Rajapaksa government prosecuted a brutal civil war against the Tamil minority but then the LTTE was no less brutal.

Having successfully concluded the war, there is also no doubt that the Sri Lankan government could do much more by way of reconciliation and rehabilitation.

But the Sri Lankan Tamils seem to have wisely understood that they need to live in harmony with the Sinhala community and they are trying to pick up the pieces and get on with their lives. However, the Tamil parties in India don’t seem to want to let go of an issue which they have milked for all its worth over the years.

When the civil war in Lanka was at its height, we did not see too many tears being shed by the Tamil parties. So, it is passing strange that they should think of raking it up now.

The AIADMK has done very well on its own in Tamil Nadu, but nevertheless it would not set the stage for a productive relationship with the Centre if chief minister J Jayalalithaa were to stay away on Monday on account of the Tamil issue.

The DMK, decimated as it has been, should have far greater concerns than the cause of the Tamils at present and the smaller parties have nothing to gain by politicising this issue.

The new prime minister is not likely to address the Tamil issue for quite a while, saddled as he is with a faltering economy.

So, we can only assume that this is simply grandstanding. However, this is hardly constructive and neither helps the Tamils’ cause nor boosts their own stature or bargaining power.

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