The changing stripes

He might be on the run and under terminal siege at home, but Veluppillai Prabakaran is having a good run in TN now. The sudden escalation of temperature on the Sri Lankan issue here is really a lifeline to one of the most wanted terrorists of our times. For if the TN blackmail of the Centre succeeds, VP will get a new lease of life. Of course, the people of the State are being fed the familiar alibi of solidarity with Sri Lankan Tamils. Well, of all the cries of woes coming across the Palk Straits, we all know which one is heard and heeded the most here!

After ensuring that no one else remained to fight for the Tamil cause, the supreme tiger has managed to pass muster under almost all the political skins in TN. To their credit, the MDMK and the PMK have never hidden their affinity to the LTTE. The two parties have been too vocal in their support, at times even warranting an extended ban. Thirumavalavan’s Viduthalai Chiruththaigal is extended family, as the name, intentionaly or inadvertently suggests. Its leaders are known to frequent Vavuniya till quite recently right under the noses of the authorities of the two nations. The DK and its breakaway factions have a known history of Tiger riding. Though his voice has been drowned by other megaphones this time, to Nedumaran, VP is the only Tamil that exists in Lanka. It is not difficult to guess where the sympathies of the fledgling DMDK of V’kanth lie; after all the origins of ‘Captain’ is tinsel legend.

No one knows the stand of the BJP. The AIADMK of course, has been steadfast in its opposition to the LTTE. The Left is a new entrant to the Eelam politics in TN. Actually it was the comrades who set the political ball rolling with a fast that eventually fizzled. That leaves the DMK and the Cong. While all the aforesaid outfits have been somewhat consistent in their behaviour, the DMK and Cong have made a virtue of contradictions. These two parties have played a variety of political games on the issue, at times at each other’s throat as antogonists, tangoing often as partners or simply engaging in friendly bouts while under one umbrella. From dare devilry to duplicity all tricks have been on parade. If the SL issue is now a diplomatic and emotional maze it is primarily due to the self-serving antics of these parties.

To the Cong first. To its prima donna specifically. If the LTTE today is less of a menace in the eyes of many, the credit must go in great measure to Sonia Gandhi. She has single handedly engineered a revival of its fortunes here and emboldened all the elements that have laid low for tactical or legal reasons after Rajiv’s death. Rajiv’s murder was a national calamity for it was a revenge killing for a decision he took as PM. It was also a personal tragedy, no doubt to his family and friends. But it was the Congress that mixed that personal grief with politics and made it a heady cocktail that caused cataclysmic convulsions in the nation and in TN.

The party brought down a government in 1997 because it could not support an alliance in which the DMK was a part. It is common knowledge that between 1991 to 1998, Sonia and family have on many occasions expressed displeasure at the tardy progress of investigations into Rajiv’s assassination, particulary w.r.t to DMK. She made a spirited defence of the Jain Commission and dubbed criticism of it as an attempt to divert the investigation. In a virtual direct attack on K, VP Singh and Chandra Shekhar, she said in Amethi in 1999: ‘There are some people in the political arena of the country who facilitated the murder of my husband’. And referring indirectly to G.K.Moopanar’s alliance with DMK, Sonia said:’There are people who are aligning with fans of my husband’s murderers due to the politics of power’. But soon, with the prospect of power blooming before her, the bloody clot thawed and the DMK became the most trusted soulmate. And worse, the PMK and MDMK are part of her bandwagon even without getting off their tiger-mounts! But if political pragmatism can provoke a personal leap of faith of this magnitude, does it not call for a special kind of mindset? But why bother! Dead men, even if they happen to be husbands, tell no tales, much less object!

With that somersault the Cong lost all moral authority to cage the tiger. But the idea looks to be to engage. It was Sonia’s fervent pleas that forced the law of the land to commute Nalini’s death sentence to life. It was a blatant interference with the judicial process, rather a perversion of a judicial verdict that sought to punish the enemies of the nation. This too became a saintly personal affair, as Sonia disposed of what the law had proposed. Very recently, Priyanka’s meeting with Nalini in jail was downright improper and again this too passed under the family’s divine right of passage above law. The clamour for N’s release gained momentum only after that. Given such trends, would it be wrong to expect a shift in India’s Lanka policy at the behest of the super PM? Indeed, Prabakaran has only to say sorry to Sonia by e-mail or SMS for ‘bumping off’ Rajiv, and not just pardon but even Indian paratroopers would be at his doorstep ahead of the Lankan army, for a sensationl airlift. Now, with such soft-hearted saints strutting around dispensing amnesty at random for whatever reasons, can anyone blame petty PMKs and vociferous Vaikos for holding tigers by the tail?

For the DMK, the Sri Lankan Tamil cause and even the LTTE are political bargaining chips. Commitment is subject to self-interest. No wonder, K could shelve self-respect and align with the very party that accused him of complicity in murder. But that’s a petty price. Now he has made bold to sacrifice MPs for Tamil’s sake and Tamils’ sake. That too his own daughter’s own post itself. But then how was the ultimate rationalist, under whose thumb the mighty Congress and the UPA regime lie, unaware of the military aid that the Indian Government is supposedly giving to Lanka? Obviously, the sudden rush of Tamil blood is provoked by other calculations in which SL Tamils figure least. But then with Tamils right under his nose here in TN getting the short shrift thanks to power cuts, traffic jams, inflation etc where is succour for those across seas? In any case, not all Tamils answer to names like A’Giri & K’Mozhi! But if we may suggest, why not quit as CM of Tamils’ nadu rather than exiting distant Delhi?

And as if the legitimate SL Tamil cause has not been belittled and destroyed enough, alternately by Sinhala chauvnists, the LTTE itself and the politics here, another familiar dimension unfolds: filmdom’s protest! We now know the script by heart: The SL Tamil cause will be served as speaker after hails the CM for serving the, er., SL Tamil cause! For the Cine Minister, pardon, Chief Minister, who has appointed himself as the sole arbiter of Tamil identity, that’s ratification enough of his Tamil credentials coming as it does from those who matter most to him. No matter if there are hardly any Tamils in tinseltown!

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Jawahar T R