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Aftermath of Indian Elections so what next step towards Sri Lanka

[MISC, Sunday, 24 May 2009 06:11 No Comment]

By Satheesan Kumaaran

The month-long elections in India came to an end on May 13. Roughly 700 million voters trekked to the polling booths to cast their votes. The results were announced on May 16. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by Congress Party has formed the new government with Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minster. The Tamil national question in Sri Lanka has reached a climax. The South celebrated on a grand scale its military conquest of the North while Tamils world over are waiting to see what India will do to bring a permanent political solution to the Tamil national question.

Will India play leading role in Sri Lanka?

The Congress-led government refused to intervene to bring an end to the war other than making frequent flights to Colombo to placate its election ally (DMK). India could not even prevail on Colombo to come out with political proposals simultaneously with Sri Lankan government’s military operations against the LTTE. The Congress Party have been returned to power for a second consecutive term under the leadership of Manmohan Singh, which enables India to play a leading role in Sri Lanka to bring permanent peace to the island.

So far, the UPA government maintained a hands-off policy, while Sri Lanka launched military offensives to capture LTTE-held areas. The question arises, whether the Indian government will make meaningful steps to end the conflict? UPA would not face the same political pressures now. It has increased its strength in the parliament substantially and will remain in power for the next five years. Unlike the 2004 elections, this time the UPA got 262 seats out of 543 seats 10 short of the magic number 272 to form the government. However, the UPA has received support from other parties. In this atmosphere, UPA will be less keen to pressure Sri Lanka to find a permanent and equitable solution to the national question.

Will DMK help create independent Tamil Eelam?

During the elections, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) — the major coalition partner of the UPA government — leader M. Karunanidhi openly spoke in favour of Eelam, and said he would help create an independent Tamil Eelam. Tamil Nadu people have cast their votes overwhelmingly to the DMK allies winning 28 seats out of 40 seats in Tamil Nadu and Puthuchchery.

Unlike in the past, Karunanidhi, by setting aside his political maneuvers, should come forth in helping Eelam Tamils. He has the responsibility, and as the world Tamil leader should keep his promises. He has enough political clout to exert pressure upon New Delhi to do what he had promised to do. Because of his advanced age and poor health, he should make wise choices in regard to Tamils if he wishes to live up to his role as the global Tamil leader.

As the regional super-power India can play a pivotal role in Sri Lanka’s political process if it so wishes. Karunanidhi has the power to exert pressure on New Delhi to allow Tamils to live in freedom, peace and dignity. Policy-makers in India should know that the situation in Sri Lanka has reached a climax where Tamils cannot co-exist with the majority Sinhalese under a unitary state. India cannot hope to resolve the conflict under the 13th Amendment which was rejected even by the moderate Tamil leaders as far back as 1987. So, the DMK has put pressure on New Delhi to go beyond the 13th amendment and the present unitary constitution. Ideally, creating an independent Tamil Eelam will be best solution to the ethnic conflict which has lasted for over 61 years.

Justice will triumph

India produced many Gandhis and speaks around the world for peace. India cried fowl when the Palestinians die in Middle East and the people of India cried when Iraqis died. It is pathetic that when the Tamils in the neighbouring Sri Lanka were dying for the last three decades India did little to stop the massacre.

India foolishly thinks that an independent Tamil Eelam will trigger separatist tendencies in Tamil Nadu. It will lead to a pan-Tamil state consisting of Tamil Nadu and Tamil Eelam. This is really a myth because Tamil Eelam will always support India because of shared cultural, religious, linguistic and historical background with India.

By setting aside petty politics, India should come forth to help create an independent Tamil state in Sri Lanka. That would allow two third of Sri Lanka’s waters (Tamil Eelam) to wave with the waters of India as relatives.

India can take several steps towards a settlement of the ethnic conflict. Firstly, India should lift the ban on LTTE. Secondly, India should hold direct talks with the LTTE.

India has the golden opportunity and we hope it will grab it. The political environment in India is ripe for the UPA to proclaim a Tamil Eelam.

(The author can be reached at e-mail: satheesan_kumaaran@yahoo.com)

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