Saturday, January 10, 2009

LTTE and the Tamil Nadu political parties

We can group Tamil Nadu (based) political parties as follows:

1. AIADMK, Congress - Vehemently oppose the LTTE. If possible, they avoid mentioning the sufferings of the Sri Lankan Tamils.

2. PMK (Ramadoss), VCK (Thol.Thirumavalavan), MDMK (Vai.Ko) - Actively support the LTTE. If threatened with arrests, pipe down a little bit, only to resurface again with open expression of support.

3. DMK - thoroughly confused as to what to do. By nature, pro-Ealam and hence pro-LTTE, but depends on Congress for support in the state legislature. Also, a key player in the central coalition ministry and hence cannot be seen to be actively "anti-national".

4. BJP - though a fringe player in Tamil Nadu, has suddenly come up with a pro-LTTE stand, asking for the removal of ban on the LTTE in India.

5. CPI - Tamil Nadu unit of the party is pro-Ealam, though will not openly talk about the LTTE.

6. CPI (M) - Anti-LTTE though they will not openly make any statements.

7. DMDK - Vijayakanth'a party. No explicit statements so far.

8. Several Periyarist, Tamil Nationalist outfits which are outright pro-LTTE.


MDMK, PMK, VCK see the LTTE as the only group capable of safeguarding the interests of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Periyarist, Tamil nationalist groups see the LTTE and Prabhakaran as somewhat larger - on par with a Sangam era Tamil hero or victorious Tamil kings who vanquished other kingdoms. They are therefore willing to accept the decimation of other Tamil armed groups/peaceful groups in Sri Lanka by the LTTE.

Congress sees the LTTE as the group that killed their leader Rajiv Gandhi. This 'personal' enmity is the reason why there will never be a rapprochement between Congress and the LTTE. Further complication arises when the fringe supporters of the LTTE consider Congress as their enemy and attack the party verbally and also physically. This strengthens Congress' resolve to increase their opposition to the LTTE even further.

AIADMK will remain anti-LTTE as long as Jayalalitha is at the helm of this party. She also seems to harbour personal enmity, the reasons for this are unclear, against the LTTE.

For all the others, support or opposition to LTTE is not steadfast. They can always change their tune according to the situation. There is nothing ideological in their stand vis-a-vis the LTTE.


Is it acceptable for a democratic country or constitutional elements within a democratic country to encourage or support armed fight in another country?

Those who support the LTTE in Tamil Nadu contend that the LTTE has taken to the arms only because of Sinhala chauvinism - constant attacks and periodic riots against the Tamil minorities in Sri Lanka, colonisation of Tamil lands by Sinhala farmers, unreasonable restrictions on Tamils from getting into higher education and jobs, imposition of Sinhalese language over the Tamils, imposition of Buddhism everywhere, lack of sufficient representation for Tamils in the Police and the military, to name a few.

The LTTE's supporters say that all peaceful means of convincing the Sinhalese majority on devolution of power to the minority Tamils did not work. Therefore, frustrated Tamils took to arms, which resulted in a clutch of armed groups such as EROS, TELO, LTTE, EPRLF, ENDLF and so on. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the LTTE emerged stronger by decimating or forcefully merging other groups.


The Sri Lankan Tamil problem has several aspects that need to be addressed. There should be more vigorous debate in Tamil Nadu and across India. There is no solution to the Palestine conflict without having a dialogue with Hamas. Even the UN recognizes this. However, in Tamil Nadu and India, talking about the LTTE is a taboo.

Tamil Nadu based political parties should not shy away from talking about the LTTE.

I will discuss more on this in the subsequent posts.