Stewing in their own juice

For those who did not doubt the veracity of the leaked version of the Jain report, its tabling in Parliament brings no surprises. This political bombshell of a report, which was ignited prematurely much to the chagrin of the UF government, had burnt itself out by the time it reached Parliament, but the reverberations were strong enough to rock the fragile coalition to its very foundations. And for those who sought to buy time till the presentation of the report in Parliament, well, time has indeed run out. It is not that they did not know the contents or that they did not believe it, it is just that they needed time to rework their political strategies and think up new alignments that will ensure their continuance in power.

But what really comes as a bolt from the blue is the Action Taken Report tabled along with the Jain Commission report. A government which has presented this sham of an ATR has no business to question the credentials of the Jain report. In one sweep the government has attempted to nullify six years of painstaking efforts which had resulted in laying bare the unholy activities of one of its chief architects, besides exposing its mentor for ‘avoidable’ lapses. Perhaps the UF has reconciled itself to the inevitable doom and has decided to at least salvage its pride. Even so it does not adequately explain the cavalier attitude with which even matters of grave security concerns for the nation have been addressed. With ‘no comments’ being the stock reply for most findings, the ATR is just another manifestation of closed minds and carries the unmistakable stamp of its ideologue whom it seeks to protect.

The TN Chief Minister’s defence that the report is politically motivated is a shabby attempt at casting aspersions on Justice Jain. It is difficult to understand what personal grouse the Justice can nurture against Karunanidhi or the DMK. If at all Jain had developed any personal opinion against the TN Chief Minister, it could only have been during the depositions of which the Justice clearly says that several of Karunanidhi’s statements do not appear to be true. Probably Karunanidhi himself realised that the Justice has not been convinced by his presentations and is certain to give a negative report on him. In fact the Chief Minister had been only a reluctant participant in the Jain Commission proceedings and his misgivings were prompted by the apprehension that if things move in the direction in which they were moving, it would eventually zero in on him. He was right, firstly because he is a politically astute man to realise what is coming, but also primarily because of the guilty consciousness on account of his ‘Inconsistent statements’.

No one can fault Justice Jain for not trusting Karunanidhi. The Chief Minister’s main line of defence is that whatever contacts he had with the LTTE was with the Centre’s approval. Also, yesterday, he has stated that his links with LTTE were at the Centre’s instance. The obvious inference is that the Centre used him to negotiate its proposals with the LITE, which could have happened only when he was the Chief Minister i.e., after 1989. Does the Chief Minister claim that he had no contacts with the LTTE prior to that period or is it his averment that the Centre used him even when he was not in power? It may suit the Chief Minister to now disown the LTTE and disclaim any knowledge of their activities in TN. But a quick flashback of the troubled eighties would reveal that he was sold out on the LTTE beyond salvage and missed no opportunity to prove that he was one up on the others in championing their cause. True, the Centre and the MGR government also helped the LTTE primarily and the other militant groups to some extent, but their overtures were more intended to bring the LTTE to the negotiating table as they held the key to peace. When such hopes dwindled, both did not hesitate to crack down on them and remove them from Indian soil.

The IPKF was sent to the Island to help the Sri Lankan government put down the LTTE militancy. The 1987 accord came up with several proposals which were accepted by all to the exception of the LTTE. But there was a vociferous dissenter in TN too, who it was none other than Karunanidhi. Though several other politicians also did oppose the accord and the Indian army’s presence, Karunanidhi’s voice was the loudest. For him the IPKF’s presence in the Island was an assault on Tamils themselves and he carried on a relentless campaign to recall it. MGR, despite his sympathy for the Tamils’ cause also felt that the operation was necessary for a long term solution and did not flinch in his commitment to the accord, even at the risk of being dubbed a betrayer of Tamils by Karunanidhi. But things took a turn once Karunanidhi came to power in January 1989. The Jain report is quite candid when commenting on the growth of the militants in the State during the DMK rule. Without mincing words it says that soon after the DMK came to power the LTTE started consolidating its clandestine activities in the State. Here was a chance for Karunanidhi to realise several of his dreams and convictions, which also included the possibility of a ‘Larger Home’ for the Tamils of the world. Power combined with the influence of a heady ethnic wine proved very potent which made them blind to the national policy and the militants prospered. There was no way the Chief Minister could claim to have followed only the Centre’s policy during Rajiv’s tenure which lasted till November 1989, because his views on LTTE, the accord and the IPKF were no secrets and all these ran contrary to Rajiv’s policies. Rather there was a grudging acceptance, which was only a camouflage to his own personal agenda.

But once V.P.Singh came to power in the November of 1989; it became much easier for Karunanidhi to pursue his personal agenda. Karunanidhi’s claim that he was toeing the Centre’s line is right only with reference to this period. But with a small correction. It was the V P Singh government which started toeing Karunanidhi’s line which is borne out by the withdrawal of the IPKF from the Island, an avowed obsession of the DMK chief. His contempt for the IPKF was so much that he did not even adhere to the elementary protocol of receiving them when they landed in Madras, unbecoming of a responsible Chief Minister who was expected to bury his personal animosities. It was a very revealing indication on where his heart really was. This act was even condoned by the Prime minister, who in turn acted more as an understanding personal friend of the CM.

The V.P.Singh government refused to wake up from its feigned sleep when Padmanabha and several others were killed and the killers just walked out of the State unhindered. Nor did the Prime Minister act when his own intelligence agencies warned of increasing militant activity in Tamilnadu. The Centre looked the other way when the militants re-established their networks, with the active connivance of the authorities in TN who went out of the way in their patronage of the LTTE. No doubt, sirs, the Centre and the DMK were toeing the same line. And Karunanidhi was dictating it. We must in fact thank the CM for his revelation though ‘weepy’ Singh now wouldn’t for being dragged into the mess alongwith.

What Justice Jain has done is to take note of all these instances to conclude that the DMK actively connived and abetted LTTE in re- establishing themselves, even after they became persona non grata to the Indian Government, and such a situation prepared the grounds for Rajiv’s assassination. To dub Jain’s pronouncements as anti-Tamils comes naturally to him owing to the auto-suggestion that he and Tamils are synonymous and he is their sole leader. Nevertheless, there is no use maligning the Panel for its findings because the fault is not Jain’s but their own past which has come back to haunt. The DMK is only stewing in its own juice.

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Jawahar T R