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News Features


The Indian High Commissioner and his Deputy spent a number of days in the EP last week and emphasised the importance of the Province to India. They have also decided to fund a rail link between Trincomalee and Batticoloa. Sampur is also the site of the Indo-Lanka joint venture where a coal fire power plant is to be established. It is in India’s interest to ensure stability and development in the Eastern Province as they consider, as stated before that the ISI would infiltrate operatives into India to destabilise their country through the EP.

INDIA AND THE DEMISE OF THE LTTE

By K. Godage
The end of the LTTE as a conventional force would be welcomed by the Government of India. It is of course being moaned in India by the likes of Nedumaran and Ramdoss not even by the former backer Karunanidhi and certainly not by the AIDMK and Jayalalithaa who has openly stated that those who support the LTTE should be taken into custody. She in fact on January 28, stated that the LTTE must surrender and bring about a ceasefire. Incidentally surveys indicate that her party will form the next government in Tamil Nadu. This is on form for Tamil Nadu politics has a tendency to rotate power. I give below how the two principal parties fared in recent years at State elections:-

Party 1989 1991 1996 2001
AIDMK 2 164 --- 196
DMK 151 2 173 37

(Total number of seats in the Assembly is 234 for a population of over 50 million)

The DMK which is allied with pro-LTTE parties would came into power at the elections held in 2004 and there is little doubt in my mind that the AIDMK which is allied to the BJP will form the next government in the State. It is also a fact that the regional Tamil Parties play a significant role at the centre. In the Atal Bihari Vajpaayee administration (1999 – 2004) the DMK, the MDMK and the PMK held no less than ten ministries in the union cabinet. Today there are 12 union ministers from Tamil Nadu belonging to the Congress, the DMK and the PMK. Incidentally the Sethusamudram Project is being implemented at the instance of Vaiko’s MDMK which supports the LTTE.

Since neither of the two main political parties, namely the Congress nor the BJP could form a government of their own, they are invariably beholden to their regional partners to form governments. With national elections due towards May this year, both parties would seek to address the demands of the regional parties. Though Jayalalithaa is opposed to the LTTE, she is nevertheless concerned about the plight of Tamil civilians caught up in the fighting and also in the matter of obtaining what she considers as “equal rights for the Tamils of Lanka.” Her party supports the BJP which is said to have a good chance of forming a government at the Centre despite the fact that it is opposed not only by 150 plus million Muslims in India and also by Mayawathi’s Bahujana Samaj Party, the Communists and the Samajawadi Party. The BJP recently won the State of Karnataka and this is considered a good indication of what may come to pass at a general election. The DMK and its allies the MDMK and the PMK would continue to support the Congress.

With regard to the Sri Lankan problem, there is little doubt that the Central Government of India is pleased that the LTTE is being exterminated as a conventional force but their fear is that, the LTTE would transform itself into a guerilla force (the LTTE has inspired extremist chauvinist elements in Tamil Nadu, creating a possible future threat to the unity of the Union of India) and seek to wreak havoc on the country unless the government reaches out to the Tamil people with a hearts and minds approach and also empowers them politically so that they would not support the LTTE or any other militant movement that may rear its head in Sri Lanka.

India today has far more serious matters to worry about than Sri Lanka or appeasing the fringe elements in Tamil Nadu. They have the insurgency in Kashmir with its attendant terrorism, they have the Naxalite problem and insurgencies in their Northeast region and last but not least the Islamic insurgency that has manifested itself in a series of bombings, only the last being the attack on Mumbai; this by itself is a huge security issue. Pakistan is India’s biggest dilemma; India is still seized with the diplomatic aftermath of the Mumbai bombing. India has been compelled to bring the issue of countering terrorism to the front burner; India’s attitude to our problem has certainly been coloured by it.

India remains obsessed with the activities of the Pakistan ISI, so much so that, India’s Home Minister Chitambaram stated in answer to a question in the Rajya Sabha only last week that “…the Indian Government is alive to the threat of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence attempting to infiltrate its operatives into South India via Sri Lanka and has taken steps to counter this” (It is indeed of interest to know of what steps they have taken). I am reminded of their insistence of our merging the Northern Province with the Eastern Province; the reason of course being that the Muslims who are 40% in the EP would be reduced to less than 20% in a North-East Province! It is reported that a very important Indian Official asked our President why legislation could not be introduced to merge the Provinces after the Supreme Court decided that the merger was not valid. The President had reacted appropriately.

India has in recent months stepped up its development assistance to the EP; they seek to set up an exclusive Export Processing Zone in the EP where the IOC has the oil tank farm with an extensive acreage of land in China Bay. The Indian High Commissioner and his Deputy recently spent a number of days in the EP last week and emphasised the importance of the Province to India. They have also decided to fund a rail link between Trincomalee and Batticoloa. Sampur is also the site of the Indo-Lanka joint venture where a coal fire power plant is to be established. It is in India’s interest to ensure stability and development in the Eastern Province as they consider, as stated before that the ISI would infiltrate operatives into India to destabilise their country through the EP.

Whatever political party coalition emerges after the next national elections in India, there is no question that the highest priority would be the security of India and the government would cultivate good relations with our country to ensure this. They would also seek to integrate our economy into theirs. They would seek to have the Constitution of our country amended suitably to ensure that this “ethnic issue” in our country, which is a little more than an irritant to them now, is sorted out. For the present they would quite naturally be concerned at the plight of civilians being held hostage by the LTTE and would do their utmost to ameliorate their suffering and have them released. We should not waste our energies worrying about what the authorities in Tamil Nadu would do to bail out the LTTE, we should play the India card to fend off these western do-gooders who are hell-bent on writing their names in the good book up in heaven at our expense instead of taking on Israel and the atrocities it has committed in the Gaza or the US and what its forces are doing to the Iraqi civilians.

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