In a dramatic shift of position, chief minister M. Karunanidhi on Wednesday declared that the best way that Tamilians in India could help Sri Lanka Tamils was by cooperating with the Sri Lankan government.
“If we want to play a positive role in protecting Sri Lankan Tamil interests, we should avoid stoking the anger of the Sinhalese,” he said in the assembly, replying to a call attention motion.
He noted that relief and rehabilitation for the Sri Lankan Tamils would have to be channeled through the Rajapaksa government.
Karunanidhi added that a separate Tamil Ealam that Sri Lankan Tamils had dreamed of was no longer possible. “The best the Tamils can hope for is an autonomous Tamil province within the framework of a united Sri Lanka,” he said.
Before the complete rout of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam and the death of their leader V. Prabhakaran, specially during the recent Lok Sabha election campaign in the state, all parties including the DMK had competed to take positions supporting the Tamils as the Sri Lankan army advanced. Some parties, like the opposition AIADMK, had promised to send the Indian army into Sri Lanka to carve out a separate Tamil Ealam, if they won.
As a ruling party in alliance with the Congress at the center, the DMK could not afford to be so strident, but it too kept up the rhetoric, often blurring the difference between the plight of the Sri Lankan Tamils and the cause of the LTTE. But with the LTTE decimated and the elections won, the DMK is clearly moving towards a more nuanced and practical position on the Sri Lankan issue.