Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) chief M Karunanidhi’s statement that the party would pull out of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government if the Centre doesn’t demand action against war criminals in Sri Lanka is just a threat, say Congress leaders. They add there are no destabilisation risks to the UPA government.
DMK has 18 members of Parliament in the Lok Sabha; five of them are ministers.
The party has also urged the Centre to push for an international investigation into the genocide in Sri Lanka. As the US resolution is silent on these aspects, DMK wants the Indian government to bring in amendments to the US resolution on these issues at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva this month.
Some Congress leaders conceded DMK was “exerting pressure” on the UPA to introduce amendments to the US resolution. A senior Congress leader said, “It is understandable that DMK is acting out of its political compulsions in Tamil Nadu.”
North and east Sri Lanka have large Tamil speaking populations and politics around the Tamil homeland issue has played a crucial part in Tamil Nadu.
After former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the positions of DMK and the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), the major parties in Tamil Nadu, were recalibrated.
While DMK has vehemently opposed the Sri Lankan government’s war on LTTE, the Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK feels LTTE is not the sole representative of the rights of Tamils.
Both parties have, however, criticised the assault on the rights and dignity of Sri Lanka’s Tamil population. A recent Channel 4 report of late LTTE leader V Prabhakaran’s son being shot by the Sri Lankan army at close range added to the criticism.
Senior DMK leader T R Baalu told Business Standard, “The government of India should not endorse the views of the US blindly. It must introduce amendments into the resolution, demanding action against war crimes and investigation into the genocide…DMK wants credible international investigation. War criminals have to be punished.”
In a statement yesterday, Karunanidhi had said, “DMK will find it meaningless to continue in the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh-led Cabinet if our demand is not agreed to.” The statement demanded “those responsible for the genocide are identified and an independent international probe is launched against the war criminals within a specified time frame.”
The Centre has said this is a process and work on this has begun. DMK, however, rejected this approach.
In the ongoing session, the issue has rocked both Houses of Parliament. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, in an address to the Rajya Sabha, said, “Since anxiety has been expressed, the process for resolution is now underway. We are engaging with all member countries. We are absolutely committed. The government will take all the necessary steps.”
“There must be accountability; there must be fair participation. A life of dignity must be ensured (to Tamils in Sri Lanka). We are in pursuit of this objective,” he added.