The ‘Eelam’ politics has come on stage once again with the state political parties competing with each other to showcase their ‘concern’ for the welfare of the Tamil people of the island nation. The PMK was the first one to start the ‘show’ with a protest demonstration in front of the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission on 30 September 2008. The PMK’s protest was followed by a one-day hunger fast organised by the CPI. Other parties like CPIM, DMDK, MDMK, VCK and other smaller ones also participated in the fast, which was conducted on 3 October. AIADMK, which was supposed to attend the demonstration pulled out of it in the last minute due to the overwhelming presence of DMDK. The PMK also avoided it. MDMK leader Vaiko had said that his party would hold a protest demonstration throughout the state on 10 October, for which its ally AIADMK also extended support.
Meanwhile the isolated DMK organised a public meeting on 6 October and the Chief Minister gave a call to his party cadres to send telegrams to the Prime Minister’s Office demanding India’s intervention in the Sri Lankan affair. PMK, VCK and DK also joined in sending protest telegrams. The MDMK Chief Vaiko, as announced, organised demonstrations in the state as well as district headquarters and the AIADMK also extended its support for the same as committed. As the police didn’t give permission, he and his cadres defied the orders and courted arrest.
All the parties demanded the Indian government to stop supply of war equipments to Sri Lanka and asked the centre to intervene and enforce a ceasefire.
As the telegram protest didn’t have the desired effect, the Chief Minister convened an ‘All Party’ meeting, which was boycotted by AIADMK, BJP, DMDK and MDMK. The ‘all party’ meeting passed three resolutions vice, the centre must stop supply of arms to Sri Lanka government and ensure an end to the alleged genocide by enforcing ceasefire, the centre must arrange to send relief materials for the Sri Lankan Tamils through the Red Cross and the centre must find a lasting solution to the problems including repeated loss of lives faced by the Indian fishermen near the Sri Lankan waters. The Tamilnadu government gave the centre an ultimatum of two weeks, failing which all the MPs from the state would resign from parliament. The PMK, Left front, and even the opposition MDMK also gave consent to the ‘resignation’ protest. The TNCC, which can’t move even a finger without the consent of its ‘high command’ was non-committal on the resignation issue and said that, it had signed and supported the resolutions as an expression of solidarity.
While speaking at the all party meting Karunanidhi has said that ‘sibling rivalry’ among the Tamil groups in Sri Lanka had largely weakened their objective of a separate ‘Tamil Eelam’. Remembering the 1986 TESO conference held at Madurai, he said that he got hint of the plot to assassinate TELO leader Sabarathinam on 6 May 1986 and despite pleading with the concerned militant outfit (LTTE), he could not save Sabarathinam and added that, only because of such sibling rivalries the Sri Lankan Tamils have failed in achieving their objective. Chief Minister said, ‘Sibling rivalry among freedom fighters will damage the noble cause. Only because of the weakness created by the sibling rivalry, we are still witnessing the persecution of Tamils in Sri Lanka’.
When the PMO was flooded with telegrams, the National Security Advisor M K Narayanan, as instructed by the Prime Minister, summoned the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner and asked his government to exercise restraint in their military operations against the LTTE. He also conveyed India’s concern on the sufferings of civilians and the alleged shooting of Indian Fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy.
The Prime Minister, who gave an assurance to Karunanidhi over the telephone that he would act accordingly in the aftermath of the ‘telegram-protest’, came out openly after the all-party meeting and said that the Indian government is concerned over escalation of hostilities, displacement of innocent people and the losses suffered by them.
Rajya Sabha member and Chief Minister’s daughter Kanimozhi was the first to act according to her father’s dictum. She ‘promptly’ submitted her post-dated (October 29) resignation letter to her father. Following the footsteps of Kanimozhi, other DMK MPs of the Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha submitted their resignations to Karunanidhi. Former union minister Dayanidhi Maran also met the Chief Minister after three days and gave his resignation. Pressurised by the latest development in DMK, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, as instructed by the centre, summoned the Sri Lankan High Commissioner and conveyed India’s ‘concern’ over the plight of the Sri Lankan Tamils, who were caught in the conflict between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Army. Earlier, the External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee issued a statement expressing India’s concern.
The AIADMK supreme Jayalalitha immediately responded to the all-party meeting and called it a ‘drama’. She termed the MPs’ submission of resignations to Karunanidhi as a ‘farce’ and said that Kanimozhi’s resignation was not even worth its paper cost. She demanded Karunanidhi to prove his concern for the Sri Lankan Tamils by dissolving the state assembly and by making his MPs to resign from the union cabinet. She also asked what was he doing for the last four and a half years and what purpose would be served by resigning when just six months were left for the closure of parliament. She stated that Karunanidhi is diverting the people’s attention from many other relevant issues concerning his absolute non-governance.
Other opposition parties like DMDK and BJP also called the resignation of DMK MPs as a ‘travesty’. DMDK president Vijayakanth was more scathing in his attack on Karunanidhi. During the mammoth ‘Youth wing’ conference of his party in Chennai, he minced no words in criticising Karunanidhi and the central government and blaming them for the present plight of Sri Lankan Tamils.
The DMK government induced the film fraternity to jump into the bandwagon and the Directors, Producers, Exhibitors and other Technicians, under the banner ‘Tamil Ina Unarvu Kuzhu’ (Forum for Tamil Race) announced a rally in Rameshwaram in support of Sri Lankan Tamils and protesting against the Rajapakse government.
The film fraternity of more than 2000 people, sans top actors, left Chennai for Rameshwaram by a special train, which was flagged off by veteran director K Balachander on Saturday evening and they took out a rally on Sunday morning condemning the ‘killing’ of Tamils in Sri Lanka. A public meeting was organised for the evening, which saw a flurry of ‘emotional’ speeches from almost all the speakers, some of whom are well known directors and producers. As the rally has been organised at the behest of the ruling party, the speakers had the temerity to come out openly in support of the banned militant outfit LTTE and against the Indian government.
While the support for LTTE in the name of Lankan Tamils took the colour of ‘separatism’, the talks against the central government had the odour of ‘anti-nationalism’. A speaker made a stupid comparison of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi with the assassination of Indra Gandhi and Mahathma Gandhi, saying that India has forgiven the Sikhs (killers of Indra) and the Aryans (Brahmin killers of Gandhiji), but has not forgiven the Tamils (killers of Rajiv). It was even spoken that, A ‘Sikh’ and a few ‘Aryans’ (Brahmins) have become the Prime Ministers of India, but a ‘Tamil’ has still not been made the Prime Minister.
Encomiums were sung on the nationally proclaimed offender, the LTTE Chief Prabakaran, It was said that he and his troops were the only Tamils, who retaliated with equal strength, when the Tamils in the rest of the world were at the receiving end. One speaker went to the extent of saying that the central government was afraid of Tamils becoming strong with the formation of a separate Eelam. He asked, ‘If India could help the formation of a separate Bangladesh from Pakisthan, why couldn’t it help the formation of separate Eelam from Sri Lanka?’ A few speakers, in the guise of voicing for the Tamils settled world over, have showcased their proclivity towards the formation of a separate Tamil nation too. The upcoming directors Seeman and Ameer were the main speakers of seditious dialogues and senior directors like Barathiraja and Ramanarayanan endorsed their speeches.
Meanwhile in the city, MDMK leader Vaiko and his colleague and former union minister Kannappan made similar kind of speeches in a meeting where a documentary film in support of LTTE was also screened. Vaiko threatened the centre that he would even carry arms and mobilise youth for fighting in support of LTTE and Kannappan said that a day would come for demanding a ‘separate’ Tamilnadu.
Perturbed by the voices in support of the LTTE, the opposition leader Jayalalitha had said that those speakers would have been arrested on charges of sedition had she been the Chief Minister. Karunanidhi promptly, to put her in a dilemma, ordered for the arrest of Vaiko and Kannappan, who were later lodged in prison. Undeterred by the government’s act, Jayalalitha charged that the arrests were politically motivated and that Karunanidhi is settling political scores and she demanded the arrests of Seeman, Ameer and Barathiraja under the same sections of IPC. As Karunanidhi was left with no other alternative, he had to order the arrest of Seeman and Ameer. The police arrested them late last evening after their participation in the ‘human-chain’ protest organised by the DMK. The much hyped human-chain peotest ended as a ‘damp squib’ due to the boycotting of the main ally Congress Party and the torrential rains, which lashed the city right at the time of starting of the protest.
Many things, which had all the ingredients that could help to produce a movie, have happened and indeed a look back at the events of the last three weeks has given a feeling a watching a movie. A deep analysis is needed to make a ‘review’ of the movie.
(To be continued)