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The other foreign hand

By demanding a hard stance on Sri Lanka, the DMK is trying to reiterate its relevance and is holding Indian foreign policy hostage to regional compulsions. The government must stand firm and not succumb to the DMK’s threats.

india Updated: Mar 18, 2013 22:16 IST
Hindustan Times
Indian foreign policy,DMK,hindustantimes

After floundering for months on the political margins, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) seems to have found an issue with which it can reiterate its relevance.

The vote on the UN-backed resolution against Sri Lanka has so exercised the DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi that he has threatened to withdraw from the UPA alliance unless the Centre agreed to incorporate the amendments that his party has sought to the draft resolution on Sri Lanka in the United Nations Human Rights Council due shortly.

With this the DMK is once again trying to hold foreign policy hostage to domestic political compulsions.

The government of India has pushed for the implementation of the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’s report and the promotion of a trilingual policy in Sri Lanka.

It has also expressed the hope that there would be a credible and independent investigation into the loss of civilian lives and the violations of human rights in the war against the LTTE.

But to push the government to term the deaths in the conflict as genocide, which is what the DMK wants, is taking things too far. The government must stand firm and not succumb to the DMK’s threats.

Foreign policy must be conducted keeping India’s best interests in mind, not that of individual parties in a political formation.

If the government buckles under every time a fractious ally makes an unreasonable demand, no one will take our foreign policy seriously.

No doubt, the DMK wants to play to the galleries at home. But it should find an issue which does not have national ramifications.

It is also passing strange that the Tamil parties in India like the DMK feel so strongly for the Sri Lankan Tamils who don’t seem to be looking for solace to them.

Even when the Sri Lankan army was going full tilt against the LTTE, the Tamil parties, or for that matter people in Tamil Nadu, did not seem too concerned.

We can then only conclude that Mr Karunanidhi’s demands are all to do with keeping his party relevant than any real concern for the Sri Lankan Tamils.

The government must stick to its guns that foreign policy cannot be brought to its knees by truculent allies. And if this means that the DMK will pull out, then the Dravidian party risks further marginalisation, something it can ill afford at the moment.

First Published: Mar 18, 2013 22:14 IST