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Why this Tamil Kolaveri now?

The DMK's misusing the Sri Lanka card for its own petty localised compulsions.

india Updated: Mar 25, 2012 01:46 IST
Hindustan Times

There is always an element of opportunism in coalition politics, but even so, this one takes the cake, the plate and the trimmings. After being thoroughly disgraced by the conduct of some of its members in the 2G spectrum case, and being consigned to the political margins in the last assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, the DMK has pulled out that hoary old chestnut of concern for the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils.

It wants India to vote along with a UN Human Rights Council resolution accusing the Sri Lankan government of human rights violations in the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which ended in 2009. Of all the people the DMK could find, it wheeled out Kanimozhi, the daughter of the DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi, to threaten to withdraw its ministers from the UPA if the government did not play ball. Clearly, it hopes to use the Sri Lankan Tamil card to get back into the reckoning, since it has no other issues on which it sounds remotely credible at the moment.

It is passing strange that it did not wear its heart on its sleeve for the Sri Lankan Tamils in the last assembly elections where it got a drubbing. While there is every indication that the Sri Lankan army did not make the effort it should have to differentiate between the LTTE cadres and the civilians in the brutal war, evidence of which is now coming out in the form of a Channel Four video apart from eyewitness accounts, it is shameful that this should be used in Indian domestic politics to extract concessions from the government.

For a start, the Sri Lankan Tamils and the Indian Tamils are not one people. For another, a coalition partner of the government is being irresponsible in trying to influence the government on a major foreign policy issue to fulfil its own petty localised compulsions. The DMK must be alarmingly thick-skinned if it thinks that anyone will believe that it has the best interests of the Sri Lankan Tamils in mind.

There is no doubt that this is a humanitarian issue and that there should be adequate compensation and rehabilitation of the innocent survivors of the war. To that extent, the Sri Lankan government must be engaged on this issue. The DMK clearly perceives that the government is on the ropes, thanks to the unreasonable demands of allies like the Trinamool Congress and thinks it too can extract its pound of flesh. But it may find that this blatant act of opportunism could find little resonance within Tamil Nadu which has not exactly been on the boil even when the war was on in full flood. The DMK would do itself a far greater favour politically if it tried to show that it is a responsible coalition ally and not to put too fine a point on it, use blackmail to cover its own glaring sins of omission and commission.

First Published: Mar 19, 2012 21:11 IST