PM-designate Narendra Modi’s invite to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, to attend his swearing-in on May 26 has been hailed. But regional parties in Tamil Nadu have again stepped up their anti-Lanka rhetoric, ignoring the larger picture of strategic relationship with the country.
On Thursday, AIADMK, DMK and VCK issued statements questioning the invitation. The BJP said it would try to persuade its allies like Vaiko-led MDMK to view the issue in proper perspective.
PMK and Vijayakanth’s DMDK have been careful not to react despite the reservations they may have on the issue, as they expect their leaders to find place in the Modi ministry.
Modi had criticized Colombo and accused it of killing and harassing fishermen from Tamil Nadu in a series of election meetings in the state.
Chief minister J Jayalalithaa said while the UPA government had ignored Tamil Nadu assembly resolution asking it to boycott the Commonwealth meeting in Colombo last year, the new government has made “this unfortunate move of inviting the Sri Lankan President” even before assuming office.
She said this “has deeply upset the people of Tamil Nadu and wounded their sentiments all over again”. Jayalalithaa added this “is tantamount to rubbing salt into the wounds of the already deeply injured Tamil psyche”.
She said sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu and Tamils living in other parts of India and abroad in this matter are well known. “There has been a general election and a new government is to take charge in a few days, but this in no way alters the already existing strained relations between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka,” she said. “We had hoped that the new government would be sympathetic to the cause of Tamils and friendly to Tamil Nadu.”
DMK spokesperson T K S Elangovan said his party did not accept the explanation that Rajapaksa had been called as part of a general invite to the heads of all Saarc nations. “The PM-designate should understand the feelings of people of Tamil Nadu,” he said. He added the people in the state are “charged up in anger” over atrocities against Tamils in Sri Lanka during the ethnic war there.
State BJP chief and MP Pon Radhakrishnan said it did not mean Modi is less committed to helping the Tamils in the island nation. “If it was an invite to Rajapaksa alone, it would be wrong. But here it is an invite to all Saarc leaders. Modi will definitely use his tenure as PM to help Lankan Tamils,” he told reporters.
He said the party would persuade its allies in TN to understand why Rajapaksa was invited. “I will personally talk to Vaiko,” he said. (TOI)