There are active moves to get the Tamilnadu Legislative Assembly to pass a motion of censure against President Rajapakse along the lines of the critical comments made by Smt Jayalalitha on May 14th. Those behind this move are some over zealous young AIDMK alliance MLA’s keen to catch their new CM’s attention.
by I.S. Senguttuvan
Other than a passing reference by visiting Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Prof.G.L. Peiris last week in Delhi – confirming he has sent a note of congratulations to the Tamilnadu Chief Minister Smt. J. Jayalalitha – the Rajapakse government seems to be taking the new Tamilnadu order for granted. Prof. Peiris did quote, presumably for the record, GoSL is keen to build bridges of friendship with the new CM. He was obviously speaking for his boss. It is learnt sources close to the Rajapakse brothers are approached by influential sections of academics in Chennai, working through friends in Colombo close to the ruling circles, offering to help patch matters up. The Chennai sources include current advisors to the Prime Minister in Delhi , former key officials of the security apparatus in India , influential officials who played a key role during the 1987-89 IPKF advent n Sri Lanka . Influential members of the media, outside those generally identified with Colombo, are also in this effort to bring both sides together.
May 13 election results in Chennai have totally changed the political landscape there. Sonia Gandhi personally calling Jayalalitha – purportedly to formally congratulate her as a matter of courtesy – has not gone too well with the Karunanidhi clan plagued by a series of problems simultaneously. This, to be followed by the sensational incarceration of Karunanidhi’s favourite daughter Kanimoli, is interpreted by analysts as a message from Delhi they are prepared to review their alignments with the Karunanidhis consistent with the new and overwhelming mandate of the people. Jayalalitha’s AIDMK won 150 of the165 seats contested. Karunanidhi’s DMK that contested 124 seats and winning just 23 was pushed to an embarrassing 3rd place – denied even the role of Leader of the Opposition to him and his party. Rajapakse’s choices, therefore, to have the defining Tamilnadu State on his side are not merely limited but that which needs to be handled soon – and well.
Already an influential section of the AIDMK coalition has begun a Signature campaign against President Rajapakse both in the Tamilnadu Assembly and Lok Sabha to declare him a War Criminal and gross violator of serious Human Rights. The campaigners back the report of the UN Panel and want the international community to act on it swiftly. On May 17 they announced to the press of having collected over 200,000 signatures in jusr the Mylapore area of Chennai. They say they are likely to collect more. The Sonia Gandhi/Man Mohan Singh Congress Administration, under attack from many sides on many issues, is unlikely to displease Jayalalitha at this stage in the event such a request is made to them. New Delhi needs to urgently strengthen its alliances in the States as popular polls indicate they now enjoy only 37% of public confidence. There is yet another move by influential sections of civil society in Tamilnadu, the States controlled by the BJP and others, to follow the example of Indian political parties that internationalized the serious HR violations during Yahya Khan’s tenure in then East Pakistan – that ended up in the bifurcation of Pakistan in 1971. Khan was then dubbed “the Butcher of Dacca” for the terrible excesses of his army men that resulted in deaths by the tens of thousands of locals – including Dacca university youth – from both genders. There is little argument the Rajapakses should seriously consider all available options from established sources within Tamilnadu to, at least gain initially, a working relationship with CM Jayalalitha. While it is understood. more for reasons of protocol, a visit of President Rajapakse to Chennai is unlikely, a useful purpose may be served by delegating his brother Basil – a frequent emissary on behalf of his brother to New Delhi . The next choice could be Prof G.L. Peiris – one of the few ministers in Colombo capable of articulating the weak Lankan position to foreign heads. In her nature and current mood, the Tamilnadu CM may view any other delegate far less favourably.
Meanwhile, it is also understood Jayalalitha may provide an opportunity for Ranil Wickremasinghe to call on her. She has referred to him among close associates fondly as “her younger brother” This move may be to show Tamilnadu, India, Sri Lanka and the world she has nothing against the Sinhala people and that her differences are with the Rajapakses. It is also an indication Ranil and his men carefully nurture friends of the country overseas. Chief amongst JJ’s anger is connected with the May 19, 2009 events that evoked a great deal of sympathy in Tamilnadu that continues to the day. Several youth died setting them on fire in sympathy with Lankan Tamils – one having done so only a few weeks ago. Her significant victory in the nearly 100 coastal belt seats also contributed much to her landslide. Arguably, the Lankan Tamil issue also caused DMKs defeat in this region. Most TN voters felt, at least at the latter stages, Karunanidhi did not do sufficienly enough for the fishermen under constant attacks by the Lankan Navy. Many others also say Karunanidhi failed to heal the shared Lankan Tamil anguish except to stage a suspect fast between meals.
There are active moves to get the Tamilnadu Legislative Assembly to pass a motion of censure against President Rajapakse along the lines of the critical comments made by Smt Jayalalitha on May 14th. Those behind this move are some over zealous young AIDMK alliance MLA’s keen to catch their new CM’s attention. A further reason is the inspired vitriolic editorials and articles in recent weeks in the Sri Lankan media ridiculing Jayalalitha. Some sections of the Chennai Press – identified being close to President Rajapakse – a few weeks ago, hopefully, forecasted a comfortable victory for Karunanidhi and a routing for Jayalalitha. This was given wide publicity in Sri Lanka. The Lankan President’s close connections to a leading newspaperman in Chennai – whose close Brahmin relatives are married to the lower caste Karunanidhis – is well known. But what is less known is the fact that there is little love lost between her and the newspaperm concerned. The man concerned, on whom the Rajapakses depend heavily, was seen recently waiting in Jayalalitha’s office – bouquet and all – to gain her goodwill. While it is perfectly in order for the Colombo media to take her on for her strident remarks against the Lankan President, references to her personal relations with the late MGR is something that usually engages her fearsome ire. Some sections of the Lankan Press, quite irresponsibly, have made repeated references to this delicate and sensitive aspect of Jayalalitha’s past in her personal domain. Imperious as she is she utterly dislikes this to be brought to fore and is unlikely to forget the offenders.
For all these reasons it is best Rajapakse put forth the best shots in his diplomatic armour to win over the mercurial Jayalalitha – while there is some space for manouvre in his favour. It is best this be done without delay and while matters seem to be within sight of resolution.