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LTTE's political chief keen to reach out

P Nadesan, the Tamil Tigers' new political commissar, wants to reach out to India and mend fences with it, says a Sri Lankan Tamil MP, who talked to him last week, reports PK Balachandran.

world Updated: Nov 11, 2007 17:04 IST
PK Balachandran
PK Balachandran
Hindustan Times

P Nadesan, the Tamil Tigers' new political commissar, wants to reach out to India and mend fences with it, says a Sri Lankan Tamil MP, who talked to him last week.

"Nadesan has always been of the view that the Sri Lankan Tamil movement led by the LTTE should have the support of India. He reiterated this position when we met him after the funeral of Tamilselvan," Suresh Premachandran, a Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP told Hindustan Times in Colombo on Sunday.

"Apart from Nadesan other senior political leaders of the LTTE like Balakumar also told us how important it was to cultivate India," Premachandran said.

V.Balakumar, who is an ace motivator of the LTTE's cadres, including suicide cadres, was a leader of the leftist Eelam Revolutionay Organisation of Students (EROS) which had merged with the LTTE in 1988.

Premachandran, who was among the ten TNA MPs who attended Tamilselvan's funeral at Kilinochchi, said that Nadesan's views were important because he not only enjoyed Supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran's trust, but was close and respected enough to discuss matters of high political importance with the Leader.

The LTTE and its supporters in Sri Lanka and abroad, view the situation in neighbouring Tamil Nadu as changing in their favour after the killing of Tamilselvan in the Sri Lankan Air Force's attack on Thiruvaiyaru near Kilinochchi on November 2.

Barring the AIADMK and the Congress, other Tamil Nadu political parties had condoled the death of Tamilselvan. They said that he was a political man and a negotiator, who should not have been killed deliberately. M.Karunanidhi, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and President of the DMK, had penned a poem on Tamilselvan praising his courage in standing up for the Tamil cause. By releasing the poem through the government Information Department, he had given it the stamp of an official statement.

AIADMK leader J.Jayalalitha castigated Karunanidhi for praising a leader of a banned organization like the LTTE while holding a constitutional office like Chief Minister. She threatened legal action also. Karunanidhi retorted saying that he had done nothing wrong by condoling the death of a fellow Tamil. Taking the cue, other "Tamil" political parties like the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and the Viduthalai Siruththaigal (Liberation Panthers Party) and non-political groups like the Dravida Kazhagam (DK) came out in support of Karunanidhi and flayed Jayalalitha for her "anti-Tamil" stance. The pro-LTTE Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) led by V Gopalswamy alias Vaiko, condoled Tamilselvan's death in emotional terms though it was Jayalalitha's ally.

Fearing isolation on the "Tamil issue" in a state dominated by ethnic politics, Jayalalitha quickly issued a statement claiming that Tamil blood ran in her veins too, even though she was born outside Tamil Nadu in Mysore. She has apparently given up the idea of going to the Supreme Court after seeing the general political mood in the state on the issue of Tamilselvan.

The media in Tamil Nadu except a few, had described Tamilselvan as a political person, a peace negotiator with a perpetual smile, and not as a military man who deserved to he killed in the on-going war. The killing was described as a blow to efforts to being peace to the island.

As one commentator said, a martyred Tamilselvan could turn out to be more useful to the LTTE than a living Tamilselvan.His killing is considered a major achievement in South Sri Lanka, but it could prove to be a bane in the coming months, if the pan-Tamil sentiment, now becoming evident in Tamil Nadu, is whipped up to a crescendo as it was done by the political parties there in the 1980s.

TNA MPs are hoping that the leaders of Tamil Nadu, though badly divided on other issues, will come together to speak with one voice on the Sri Lankan issue, as they did in the 1980s.

"They have spoken up for us individually and separately, but they will be effective only if they come together on one platform," Suresh Premachandran said.

Importance of Natesan

The LTTE's new political commissar may well be a miniature Anton Balasingham, the LTTE's ideologue, political advisor and chief peace negotiator, who died last year after more than 30 years of service to Prabhakaran. Balasingham could interact with Prabhakaran on political issues, especially international issues, on an equal footing, something few others could claim to have done. Nadesan could do the same, Premachandran said.

"Nadesan, who set up the LTTE's police force, had a political background before he joined the organization. He was a Leftist, a supporter of the Trotskyite Lanka Sama Samaj Party (LSSP). And it is noteworthy that Prabhakaran has been including Nadesan in the LTTE's teams for peace talks with the Sri Lankan government. He has been a member of the LTTE's team in interactions with foreign diplomats and other dignitaries when these came calling at Kilinochchi," the TNA leader pointed out.

In contrast, Tamilselvan had no independent political experience, having joined the LTTE as a soldier at 16. Again, in contrast to Tamilselvan, Nadesan is a trilingual person, being able to speak in Tamil, Sinhala and English ( though, as in the case of Tamilselvan, he is assisted by Panchatcharam alias George, who enjoys mastery over English and Sinhala besides Tamil).

Nadesan's real name is Palasingham Mahendran. Before he joined the LTTE, he was a seaman, and then a constable in the Sri Lanka police. As a constable he had served in Colombo and married a Sinhala girl from Matara in the deep south. She lives with him in Kilinochchi, despite her husband's advocacy of Tamil separatism and terrorism. Writing in The Nation on Sunday, DBS.Jeyeraj said that the couple enjoyed political rapport as she too was a leftist.

According to Jeyaraj, policeman Nadesan had made friends with the LTTE's Jaffna leaders while he was serving in the Valvettithurai police station in North Jaffna. In course of time, he helped the LTTE attack the police station by secretly supplying it with a diagram of the police complex. Suspected of involvement in the attack, he deserted, and the LTTE whisked him away to Tamil Nadu where he began doing political work for the LTTE. When the LTTE and the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) began to clash militarily in October 1987, Nadesan participated in the fighting. But interestingly, when wounded, the IPKF took him to India for treatment, Jeyaraj says.

First Published: Nov 11, 2007 15:56 IST