The kerfuffle over the MDMK general secretary Vaiko’s defence of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) and his critical remarks about India turning a blind eye to the Sri Lankan government’s military pursuit of the rebel organisation shows once again how close to the surface passions are over this issue. The DMK patriarch, M. Karunanidhi, has done well to climb down from his position that he would pull out of the government and much credit goes to External Affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee for his able handling of the volatile situation. As Mr Mukherjee pointed out, India is can in no way ensure a ceasefire in Sri Lanka as it has followed a hands-off policy after the disastrous IPKF involvement, the tragic consequence of which was Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination.
For years now, Tamil Nadu’s parties have sought to politicise the Lankan Tamil issue but with no real plan on how to alleviate the sufferings of the Tamils. In the present case, the matter is complicated by the fact that AIADMK leader J. Jayalalithaa, an ally of Mr Vaiko, has always demanded a crackdown on leaders with pro-LTTE leanings. Mr Vaiko’s utterances leave her in a bit of a bind, something not lost on Mr Karunanidhi and which could well have prompted him to see reason.
The assumption that the LTTE represents the voice of all Tamils in Sri Lanka seems to form the basis for these periodic outbursts in favour of the militant organisation. It is a pity that in all the political bickering over whether the LTTE is the natural leader of the Lankan Tamils, no one has bothered to take into account the opinion of the affected people themselves.
It is well known that the LTTE has used coercive tactics in its war with the Lankan government. It is also known that it has achieved this position of pre-eminence by eliminating all rivals, quite a lot of it with the acquiescence of leaders on this side of the Palk Straits. The Lanka problem cannot be solved by political posturing in Chennai. Its nature is political and only a viable homegrown solution, perhaps with the help of objective third parties, will work in the long run.