Ahead of, Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi has sought to defuse tension building up in coastal areas of the state over attacks on Tamil fishermen by Sri Lankan navy by urging New Delhi to do something to stop such incidents till the polls.
With his rivals, AIADMK Jayalalithaa and MDMK leader Vaiko, touring these areas to express ‘sympathy’ with the fishermen families, the DMK chief utilised the opportunity of his three-day visit to impress upon Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and external affairs minister SM Krishna to ensure such attacks were stopped.
Southern districts, which account for more than 100 of the 234 assembly seats, are crucial for the DMK’s plan to return power under an alliance with the Congress. The AIADMK is seeking making forays in these areas to challenge the DMK’s presence.
Indian and Sri Lankan officials attribute such incidents to fishermen from both sides venturing into each other’s territory for better catch as haul in their areas are dwindling. But the political problem for the DMK is that it is forced to show it is upset by these incidents. Two fishermen from Nagapattinam were killed last month. Acting promptly on Karunanidhi’s plea, New Delhi dispatched foreign secretary Nirupama Rao to Colombo to convey the Centre’s strong concern to Sri Lankan. In fact, Rao was in Colombo on Monday when the CM was camping in Delhi.
On Tuesday, before he departed for Chennai, Karunanidhi was briefed by Krishna on Rao’s talks in Colombo. Later, the CM said the Centre should press Sri Lanka to abide by the Indo-Sri Lanka accord of 2008 and desist from attacking Indian fishermen who stray into their waters.
At the conference of chief ministers on internal security here, he said, “The Sri Lankan government should abide by the Indo-Sri Lanka joint statement on fishing arrangements.”