Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, 38, on Friday ruled out any Indian military intervention in Sri Lanka.
With both chief minister M. Karunanidhi and AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa having demanded that Indian troops be sent into Sri Lanka to carve out a separate state for the Tamils there, Rahul, on his first election tour of Tamil Nadu which votes on May 13, made it unambiguously clear that this was not possible.
While many other Tamil Nadu Congress leaders, including home minister P. Chidambaram, have studiously avoided discussing the Sri Lanka Tamil issue in their campaign speeches in the state, Rahul was direct. “The UPA government has done whatever was in its power to mitigate the sufferings of the Sri Lankan Tamils,” he said, addressing a large rally in Sivaganga, the constituency from which Chidambaram is contesting, 535 km south of Chennai. “But any solution to the problem has to come through democratic means.”
Rahul addressed a second rally at Tiruchirapalli, 400 km south of Chennai from where Congress candidate Charubala Thondaman is contesting.
Significantly, despite the Congress-DMK alliance, he did not address any meeting in a DMK candidate’s constituency.
Speaking in English — his speech translated into Tamil by Chidambaram’s son, Karti — Rahul said: “The Lankan Tamils must be protected.”