TN parties stoke sentiments on Lankan Tamils ahead of polls

kaunanidhiAhead of the 2016 assembly polls in the state, the ruling AIADMK and other political parties are attempting to stoke public sentiments on emotive issues like Sri Lankan Tamils’ sufferings and LTTE, although they have not translated into electoral gains in the past.

Last week, the AIADMK IT wing forwarded a video clip showing gruesome images of people slaughtered in the Sri Lankan war, images of DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s family members meeting former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse and the veteran’s comments on the ethnic crisis over the years.

An AIADMK functionary, who did not wish to be named, said the party “will not claim responsibility for the video, on record.” However, he added, “The video is meant to establish the fact that the gentleman in question adopts double standards.”

“These visuals are required to show DMK’s changing stance on the issue. When you want to prove someone is not worth their claims, you have to show what they say. Our people have been cheated because of their double standards and these visuals are proof of it,” he said.

The video comes at a time when AIADMK seems to be losing ground in certain parts of the state, due to its perceived mishandling of the flood in Chennai and surrounding areas. Political observers feel that although several parts of the state were not affected by the floods, the mindset of people in Chennai, Thiruvallur, Cuddalore and Kancheepuram is gradually changing. People now realize that the floods were more of a man-made disaster caused by poor management of water released from reservoirs and not giving adequate warning to people to move to safety.

AIADMK is perhaps attempting to divert attention away from the flood controversies by raking up an emotive issue like Lanka. Political analyst Gnani Sankaran felt that political parties would “try to divert attention from one issue to another. Flood issue itself diverted attention from prohibition issue.”

“People want justice for the victims of the Sri Lankan war. But it is not and never was an electoral issue, even at the height of the war,” he said.

Political commentator V Krishna Ananth also agreed that the issue “has not paid electoral dividends.”

“This issue was in vogue in the 80s. But if you look at outcomes of elections, such as the 2009 Lok Sabha elections…Prabhakaran being killed…this should not have helped DMK at all,” he said

“Sri Lankan issue will not help or break any political party. Parties like VCK and PMK that have used it as a political platform are only making these statements more like a ritual. Vaiko has been consistently speaking about it, yet has not won a single election,” based on that issue, he said.

MDMK chief Vaiko has spearheaded several protests and fasts in support of Sri Lankan Tamils, as recent as last month. On Monday, PMK chief S Ramadoss urged the state government to release seven convicts, members of the erstwhile LTTE, serving life sentence in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case under Article 161 of the Constitution. (TOI)

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