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Mainstream, VOL LII No 1, December 28, 2013 - ANNUAL 2013

Tamil Nadu and the Sri Lankan Conflict: Evolving Centre-State Understanding on the Ethnic Issue

Sunday 29 December 2013

by Aditi Mukherjee

The much-discussed Tamil Nadu factor in Indo-Sri Lanka relations recently came to prominence once again in the wake of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s decision not to attend the last CHOGM summit in Colombo as intense pressure was put on the Government of India by the DMK and AIADMK, the two principal political parties of Tamil Nadu, in this regard. On an earlier occasion the State had put up staunch opposition to the training of Sri Lankan defence personnel in India. Much of the anti-Sri Lanka sentiment in the State is centred around grievances about the high-handed manner in which the Sri Lankan Government has dealt with the ethnic conflict. Tamil grievance has been demonstrated in political gestures like withdrawal of Tamil members from an Indian team visiting Sri Lanka, forcefully returning a Sri Lankan football team and a group of Catholic pilgrims from Tamil Nadu to Sri Lanka, and protests against Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa’s visit to India in September 2012.

Whether Tamil Nadu has come in the way of maintaining harmonious relations with India’s southern neighbour is a question that has been asked time and again. Tamil Nadu’s role has come in sharper focus in the context of the recent impasse in India-Sri Lanka bilateral relations, particularly on the ethnic front.

In this article an attempt has been made to assess the Tamil Nadu factor in India-Sri Lanka relations right from India’s independence upto the present time. The discussion has been divided into two broad phases based on the evolving Centre-State relationship in the years after independence. The first phase is from independence upto the 1970s and the second phase is from the seventies till date.

1. Estrangement from the Centre:

Tamil Political Voices Overruled

The initial phase is from India’s independence up to the 1970s. During this time, the strong position of the Congress Government at the Centre, its holding of power in the State Government of Tamil Nadu, and the staunch opposition given to it by the Dravidian parties in the State foreclosed much possibility of cooperation. Under the Indian Constitution, the formulation and implementation of foreign policy comes under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Central Government.1 This held true regarding bilateral relations with Sri Lanka.

In order to assess as to what extent the local Tamils in Tamil Nadu identified themselves with the cause of the Sri Lankan Tamils or were active on their behalf in the early years after independence, we may also briefly turn to the political developments in Tamil Nadu at that time.

In the period immediately after independence, Tamil Nadu’s domestic scene was dominated by the Dravidian movement which was gradually entering the formal political arena. A discussion of the Dravidian movement is relevant because sometimes the secessionist tendencies associated with it are seen as having links with the secessionism that developed in Sri Lanka.

The roots of the Dravidian movement could be traced back to the early years of the 20th century. Dravidianism that emerged in the State of Tamil Nadu from the pre-independence days was opposed to what they perceived as north Indian, upper-class politics dominated by the Congress. The Justice Party was established in 1917 as a result of non-Brahmin agitations in the Madras Presidency. It had an anti-Brahmin and anti-Hindi stance. When in 1937, the Congress Ministry in Madras Presidency, headed by C. Rajagopalachari, imposed Hindi on the curriculum of high schools, there was wide-spread opposition in Madras to the Congress agenda of making Hindi the national language.

Around this time, there appeared another movement in Madras led by Periyar Rama-swamy Naicker which advocated rational social reform and equality of the masses and was opposed to Hindu caste prejudices. Periyar was also among those in the State who opposed the supremacy of Hindi and opposed the Congress advocacy of making Hindi the national language. In the 1940s the Self-Respect Movement led by Periyar Ramaswamy Naicker coalesced with the movement of the Justice Party. The Justice Party was reorganised as the Dravida Kazhagam (DK) by Periyar and they adopted a radical political agenda that aspired to create a reformed society without discriminatory caste practices and aimed to foster local culture as opposed to the northern Hindi-dominated social-milieu. They held that this goal could not be achieved within the north-dominated Indian state which, they were certain, would emerge once the British left the subcontinent and hence wanted a separate state for themselves: the Dravida Nadu where their socio-political agenda could come to fulfilment. Their vision of a separate state not only included the Tamils in it but also the other major Dravidian groups like the Telugus, the Kannadas, and the Malayalis. The British Government, however, did not accede to this demand of a separate state for the Dravidians.

More importantly, in the post-independence period, the Dravidian movement went through some transformation whereby much of their radicalism was shed as they attempted to find accommodation within the larger national political fabric and came to share the benefits flowing from it. In this process of de-radica-lisation, they also gave up their demand for a separate state. This process started shortly after India’s independence when a group led by C.N. Annadurai broke away from the DK. The immediate pretext for the parting was Periyar’s apparently unacceptable marriage with a young woman, who was half his age. But when Annadurai broke away from the DK and formed the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), he intended to launch the Dravidian movement in the formal political arena.2

As the DMK entered the political mainstream after a brief period of zealous radical movement activity, the party gradually abandoned the goal of radical social reform. It compromised on issues of atheism and non-Brahmanism. The broad social reformist agenda of the Dravidian movement now had to be adjusted to the existing political exigencies of the time. It was in 1957 that the DMK first contested the State elections. Initially, the establishment of a separate Dravida Nadu was part of DMK’s political agenda. But gradually they had to compromise on this stand. In 1963, the advocacy of secessionism was made illegal for political parties by a Central Government Act. But even before that the demand for Dravida Nadu was gradually becoming weak within the DMK. Around this time other Dravidian groups like the Telugus and the Malayalis were expressing discontent against the leadership of the Tamils in Madras and started asserting their own separate identities. The Nehruvian Government responded to such demands by creating a Commission which was to reform the Indian States on linguistic lines. Such developments fragmented and considerably weakened the Dravidian separatist aspirations. While the DK under Periyar continued with its separatist demands and wanted its Dravida Nadu to include the reorganised Madras state, the DMK decided to give up this demand. Steadily and gradually the radical and separatist ambitions of the Dravidian political parties gave way when they found the accommodating space within the larger national political fabric.

Thus Tamil separatism in India died an early and natural death. But even for the time it was there, it never had much of a connection with the Sri Lankan Tamil separatist initiatives. Sankaran Krishna’s writing clearly brings out this point. He writes that when Ramaswami Naicker united the Self-Respect Movement with the Justice Party and joined the demand for Dravidanad, “their desired territory included the entire peninsular India and also parts of Bengal, but at no time did Periyar or the Justice Party consider including Jaffna or any portion of Tamil majority provinces which were as little as twenty miles away.”3

He makes another potent argument in this connection. He argues that in reality there was no association between the separatism advocated in the two countries, but sections of the state elites in both India and Sri Lanka have harped on a linkage to serve its own politically motivated agenda. “A powerful set of reasons impelled both scholars and state elites in India and Sri Lanka to suggest that the two move-ments were inextricably linked to each other. This putative linkage was used to justify the Sinhalese state’s annihilatory response to the issue of Tamil nationalism in Sri Lanka; and in the case of India, it was used... to adopt an interventionist posture regarding Sri Lankan domestic affairs.”4

The secessionist propaganda in the two countries followed an opposite course.5 In case of Sri Lankan Tamils, it was in the decade of the 1970s when the discriminatory policies of the Sri Lankan Government finally pushed them towards secessionism, while in the case of India, the federal political set-up provided enough space for the Dravidian parties to give up their radical separatist agenda and come to the seat of power in the State. This happened in 1967 when the DMK for the first time formed the government in Tamil Nadu.

There was a de-ideologisation of the Dravidian movement as the DMK struggled to trans-form itself into a mainstream political party in the State. It made anti-Congressism the main plank of political propaganda and forged an alliance with political groups, opposed to the basic principle of the DMK, for electoral success.6 G. Palanithurai, taking note of this transformation, has remarked that the DMK changed from “a social reformist party to a regional political party”.7

The DMK’s advocacy of the Sri Lankan Tamil cause was part of its anti-Congress agenda. Before 1967, while in the Opposition, the DMK had strongly championed the issue of Sri Lankan Tamils and criticised the Congress Government for its lack of interest.8 In this initial phase, the DMK advocated a constitutional path for the settlement of the ethnic problem.9 The DMK maintained some sort of contact with the Sri Lankan Tamil leaders of the Federal Party and later with the TULF and during the anti-Hindi agitation spearheaded by the DMK, it was compared with the language struggle of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.10

However, such contacts were not significant and Tamil Nadu’s support for their brethren across the straits was somewhat rhetorical and did not amount to much in terms of concrete help. In the 1950s and 1960s there was little endeavour from the Sri Lankan Tamils for reaching out to politicians in Madras. Barring the important visit of the then Federal Party leader, S.J.V. Chelvanayagam in 1960, there had been none until 1983.11 Though Chelvanayakam, met with DMK leader Karunanidhi, he did not receive any credible commitment for support or assistance.

Among the Dravidian parties, the DK had consistently maintained its support for the Sri Lankan Tamil cause. Initially it advocated constitutional means for solution of the ethnic problem through negotiations between the moderate Sri Lankan Tamils and the government.12 Later the failure of such an approach veered the DK towards advocating a radical solution to the ethnic problem through its support for the LTTE.13 But over the years the DK’s role in the State’s politics have become marginal and it does not command adequate resources to provide any substantial backing to the Sri Lankan Tamil cause.

 It appears that in the 1950s and 1960s, the modalities of relations with Sri Lanka did not become a matter of mass concern in Tamil Nadu, because none of it touched them directly (as it would do later with the inflow of refugees from Sri Lanka). Whatever support was espoused in Tamil Nadu for the Sri Lankan Tamil cause was largely rhetorical. It formed part of the rhetoric aimed at the Central Government which was portrayed as a distant force impervious to the local and particularly Tamil problems. It was not an important enough issue to become a serious bone of contention in Centre-State relations. But on other issues pertaining to Sri Lanka—like the repatriation of the Indian Tamils and the settlement of maritime boundaries between the two countries—where Tamil Nadu did pose strong resistance to the government policies, the Central Government plainly ignored such voices of opposition from all parties in the State and signed bilateral agreements with Sri Lanka with a view to maintaining good neighbourly relations.

2. From Estrangement to Engagement:

Some Convergence of Centre-State
Political Interests

The second phase started in the decade of the 1970s by which time the Dravidian parties had become strongly rooted in the State’s politics and the Congress’ power in Tamil Nadu had faced a consequent decline; this had buttressed the need for the Centre to enter into a cooperative engagement with the Dravidian parties. Thus, we see that from 1971 the Congress in the State decided not to compete against the DMK in the State Assembly elections and formed an electoral alliance with the party.14 This marked the beginning of interdependence of the regional parties with the national party in Tamil Nadu’s politics. As time progressed this cooperation only enhanced, and in two decades time cooperation of the regional parties would become essential for forming the government at the Centre as well.

This convergence of electoral interests made it politically viable for the regional parties to toe the Centre’s policy line on the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict. During this time the Central Government took policy decisions unilaterally and the Tamil parties toed the Centre’s policy, not because they were left with no other choice, but, somewhat willingly, with a view to serve their own electoral considerations both in the State and at the Centre. In the coming decades even as the Centre’s policy towards the Sri Lankan Tamil issues underwent few turning- points, this new attitude of cooperation of the Dravidian parties with the Centre remained consistently the same.

In 1972 there was a split in the DMK and the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK) came into being under the leadership of M. G. Ramachandran; which was later renamed as the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). Over time the AIADMK emerged as a viable Dravidian alternative to the DMK in the State’s politics. Ideological differences between the two Dravidian parties are insignificant or may be called almost non-existent. From this time onwards either of the two Dravidian parties has formed the government in Tamil Nadu and their electoral understanding with the Central Government has more or less paid the expected dividend. The Centre-State electoral understan-ding is amply reflected in what came to be known as the ‘MGR Formula’ which was followed by both the parties in their electoral dealing with the Congress. A.K.J. Wyatt has observed:

The AIADMK, under the leadership of MGR, evolved a live-and-let-live arrangement where-by the Congress (a significant third force in electoral politics) would abdicate its State-level ambitions in favour of its national aspirations. This “MGR formula” resulted in overlapping electoral alliances between the two parties. Under normal circumstances, Congress would contest two-thirds of the Lok Sabha seats and in return, the AIADMK would contest the majority (usually two-thirds) of the State Assembly seats.15

During the 1970s the Central Government’s policy towards Sri Lanka largely continued as earlier and the problem of the Sri Lankan Tamils was still considered Sri Lanka’s internal affairs. At that time we see that some Sri Lankan Tamil militants, who had fled to Tamil Nadu facing persecution, were extradited back to the island by the Tamil Nadu authorities. Thus in 1973, when, Kuttimani, the leader of a militant organisation named Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO), fled to Tamil Nadu he was extradited back to Sri Lanka by the DMK Government.16 Such policies continued more or less in the same vein till the 1980s.

2.1 Concurring Centre-State Interests on Involvement in Sri Lankan Ethnic Conflict 

In the 1980s, India’s overall policy towards Sri Lanka was undergoing a shift. From the early eighties a distance was created in the perceived strategic interests of the two countries. Sri Lanka’s opposition to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in late 1979, support for Britain on the Malvinas or Falkland Islands war of 1982, proposed membership in the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the early 1980s, and the tendency to strike an independent stance in various fora like the United Nations and Non-Aligned Move-ment17 all created some amount of suspicion among the Indian policy-makers.

The anti-Tamil riots of 1983 increased tensions between India and Sri Lanka and generated a huge flow of refugees to Tamil Nadu. In the aftermath of the riots, Sri Lanka started searching for aid and support from various Western countries like the USA and UK and also from some Asian powers like China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Malaysia.18

Western powers like the US and UK, however, while declining the offer of direct assistance, came up with suggestions of help through other means. The USA helped Sri Lanka in drafting an agreement with Israel for military assistance and arranged for the service of Israeli intelligence agencies, like Mossad and Shin Bet, in support of the Sri Lankan Armed Force’s anti-Tamil operations19 and also provided Sri Lanka with an aid of $ 160,000 for military training as well as American-built bell helicopters.20 Britain provided indirect support through a British private security organisation named Keenie Meenia Services, which trained the Sri Lankan security forces in counter-insurgency techniques.21

As regards the Asian powers, Pakistan was prompt in extending support to Sri Lanka. Pakistan’s anti-India mentality was clearly reflected in Zia-ul Haq’s assertion that “... there were to be no more Bangladesh; today it was Sri Lanka, tomorrow it could be Pakistan.”22 China also responded to Sri Lanka’s call for help and was one of the potent sources of arms for Sri Lanka, supplying equipments like Patrol Boats and T-56 assault rifles as well as training the Sri Lankan Air Force personnel.23

In return for such aid, Sri Lanka had to accommodate strategic interests in her dealings with these countries. It increased cooperation particularly with the USA. The Jayewardene Government gave the contract for revitalising the oil tank farms in the strategically situated harbour of Trincomalee to a USA based consortium of companies, ignoring the Indian bid for the project at a more reasonable price.24 This had the effect of providing a potential base for American strategic presence around the important port of Trincomalee.25 Moreover, the Sri Lankan Government also signed agreements with the USA offering the “Voice of America” broadcasting facilities on the west central coast of Sri Lanka26 which could be used as a base for intelligence operations against India. Thus around this time, Sri Lanka’s emerging security, economic and intelligence connections with South Asian neighbours like Pakistan, China, and Western countries like Israel and the US were perceived by India as a strategic challenge and threat.27

It was chiefly the aforementioned regional considerations and, more importantly, India’s desire to maintain its status as the dominant regional power, a status that had been reinvi-gorated in the aftermath of India’s military success in the Bangladesh crisis that spurred the Indira Gandhi Government into taking a pro-active policy towards Sri Lanka. The concerns of Tamil Nadu were minimal in India’s policy-calculations. The Indian official stand, as expressed in the writing of officials and scholars like J.N. Dixit and S.D. Muni, that one of the important reasons for taking this interventionist approach was to assuage pro-interventionist feelings in Tamil Nadu, does not hold much water.

J.N Dixit, while explaining the reason for Indian intervention in Sri Lanka in his talk in March 1989 to the United Services Institute in Delhi, remarked: “We had to respect the sentiments of the 50 million Tamil citizens of India. They felt that if we did not rise in support of the Tamil cause in Sri Lanka, we are not standing by our own Tamils; and if that is so, then in the Tamil psyche, the Tamil sub-conscious the question arose: is there any rele-vance or validity of our being part of a larger Indian political identity, if our deeply felt sentiments are not respected? So, it was a compulsion. It was not a rationalised motivation, but it was a compulsion which could not be avoided by any elected Government in this country.”28 Taking the cue from Dixit, S.D. Muni has also opined that India could not remain a mute spectator to the ethnic war in Sri Lanka because it could threaten the ‘internal stability and order in its own southern State of Tamil Nadu’.29

That this was not the case comes out from the manner in which New Delhi went about pursuing its policy towards Sri Lanka, in which Tamil Nadu did not have much active input. At the Centre, the Congress Government had a majority and that it had the power to go ahead without the state’s support in its policy towards Sri Lanka had been amply demonstrated in its signing of earlier pacts like the Sirimavo-Shastri Pact, the Sirimavo-Indira Gandhi pact, or the maritime boundary agreements between the two countries. By this time, however, the State had already come to some political under-standing with the ruling Central Government, and the Tamil political parties found it beneficial to follow the Centre’s policy line because an emotive issue like the Sri Lankan Tamil cause could come useful for advancing their own electoral propaganda in the state.

The Indira Gandhi Government adopted a twin-track policy which involved holding official negotiations with the Sri Lankan Government for coming to a solution to the ethnic conflict on the one hand, and on the other, providing active support to the various Tamil militant groups. Professor Suryanarayan has observed that “the decision to pursue the mediatory-militant supportive policy towards Sri Lanka at the end of July 1983 was taken by New Delhi with absolutely no inputs from Tamil Nadu. The decision was taken in a meeting attended by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, G. Partha-sarathy and A. Amirtalingam. The views of the Government of Tamil Nadu on the subject were never sought.”30

As the Central Government went ahead with a series of official negotiations to bring about reconciliation in Sri Lanka between the conflicting parties (Annexure C, Thimphu Talks, SAARC Summit, December 1986 Proposals), policy inputs were never sought from the political representatives of Tamil Nadu. The support for the Sri Lankan Tamil cause in Tamil Nadu was used as an ex post facto justification for policies it already adopted. What was sought and achieved with ease was the cooperation of the Tamil Nadu Government to the policies that were being formulated by the Central Govern-ment and assistance in their implementation. The State Government collaborated with such ventures keeping in mind the calculations of alliance politics.

The same trend continued in India’s negotiations with Sri Lanka leading to the India-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987. Sankaran Krishna wrote: “Tamil Nadu politicians had nothing to do with the terms negotiated in the agreement... More or less the State Government supported the Central Government’s stance. Criticism of the Rajiv-JR agreement by the DMK, the Dravida Kazhagam, the Tamil Nadu Kamaraj Congress and a few other parties and a call for protest demonstration on that day went largely unnoticed.”31

If change had taken place at the policy level of the Central Government, there was also change at the ground level in the State. At this time, the plight of the Sri Lankan Tamils became a matter of concern in the public life of the State. Life in the State was frenzied by a series of strikes, road and rail roko agitation, eruptions of violence and a plethora of processions.32 As a result of the huge refugee influx from Sri Lanka, India had to open a number of refugee camps, which was an additional burden on the State’s finance, as well as resources like water and electricity.33 Conditions seemed favourable for the two main Dravidian parties in Tamil Nadu to get largely involved in what has been termed as ‘competitive Dravidian politics’, whereby they tried to prove to the Tamil Nadu electorate their comparative greater allegiance to the Tamil cause in Sri Lanka.

In the aftermath of the communal riots in 1983, Karunanidhi and DMK General Secretary K. Anbazhagan resigned from the State Legislature to publicly register their protest.34 The DMK passed a resolution, which stated that a “separate Tamil Eelam shall be the only remedy and paramount solution”.35 K.Anbazhagan demanded Indian military intervention to stop the “genocide” taking place in the island.36 “If the party needed to send out a political message to the Centre, or a competitive message to the ruling AIADMK in the State, the DMK could not have done better.”37

In 1985, a new organisation called the Tamil Eelam Supporters Organisation (TESO) was formed by the DMK with Karunanidhi as its Chairman, and other partymen like Anbazha-ganar, Veeramani, Nedumaran and Ambalam as members for taking forward the cause of the Eelam Tamils.38

M.G. Ramachandran as the Chief Minister of the State, on his part, led an all-party delegation to Indira Gandhi and he asked the Prime Minister to raise the issue in the United Nations General Assembly.39 MGR called for a black- band protest by his AIADMK party cadres, who were to wear black bands and black shirts for a month.40 Sathiya Moorthy has observed: “this was a crucial stage in the career of both the DMK and the AIADMK... when they indulged in competitive Dravidian politics over the Sri Lankan issue”.41

The different Tamil militant groups, who were given training in Tamil Nadu and some other areas, soon started creating links with local political groupings. The competitive Dravi-dian politics of the time extended to providing support to different militant outfits. Thus the DMK provided support to the TELO, while M. G. Ramachandran looked for a different protégée and eventually came to supporting the Libe-ration Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). During this time MGR and Prabhakaran developed a personal friendship. The militants even fanned out to deep interiors of India for receiving training.42 The People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) and TELO trained the largest number, perhaps some five thousand persons in about fifteen camps.43 The LTTE had camps in Salem and Madurai.44 It was due to such generous help extended to the militants that they emerged from small outfits to armed groups with considerable power, and among all of them the LTTE was gradually emerging as the most important organisation.

The LTTE took whatever support it received from Tamil Nadu but was never fully under anybody’s control 45 and never became totally dependent on external support. In Chennai the LTTE had built up an extensive network which involved a wide range of people including smug-glers, fishermen, political activists, transport operators, businessmen and corrupt officials46. It functioned quite efficiently for LTTE and provided support long after Prabhakaran had left for Jaffna. They exploited the contradictions that existed in the Indian political scene at the time to their advantage.47 Professor Surya-narayan has remarked: “The four principles of ancient Indian statecraft—Sama, Dana, Bheda and Danda—were employed by the LTTE to retain Tamil Nadu as the sanctuary and supply base.”48

Even though the militant groups had considerable local support in Chennai for operating freely, they increasingly got involved in various violent activities and started creating alarm for the local population. As early as 1982, LTTE chief Prabhakaran and Uma Maheswaram of PLOTE, who were adversaries, clashed near the Pondy Bazar area in Madras and directed gunshots at each other. At that time the Sri Lankan Government was demanding the extra-dition of Prabhakaran on the case of murder of the former Mayor of Jaffna, Alfred Duriappah, but this request was not met with.49 In 1985 there was an incident of bomb explosion in Meenabakkam airport on an Air Lanka flight which took the lives of around 30 people and many more were injured.50 A Sri Lankan Tamil militant group, Tamil Eelam Army, was found responsible.51 Even in this incident, those who were arrested were subsequently released on bail and succeeded in escaping punishment.52 In 1987 there was another violent event when the Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) militants fired at some local residents in Choolaimedu, which took the life of one Indian who had attempted to stop the shooting. While these were some of the major incidents, there were other smaller criminal activities involving the militants which posed threat to the law and order situation in the State and created adverse reaction from the local population who had earlier extended a warm welcome to the militants. As exasperation was growing because of the unruly activities of the LTTE and other militant groups, there was an attempt to disarm these groups and with such objective the ‘Operation Tiger’ was carried out in which the police chief, K.Mohandas, arrested militants by hundreds, seized weapons and radio equipments.53

When the 1987 Accord was signed, the LTTE and other militants did not support the agree-ment in any real sense. But it became obvious that the AIADMK, which formed the then State Government, would support the Centre on such matters. The DMK was in Opposition at that time and was much more vocal in its protest against the accord, and subsequently when the IPKF was sent to the island, the DMK continued to whip up Tamil sentiments on this issue. In February 1988, Karunanidhi led a protest demonstration and a fast was organised by him in several towns of Tamil Nadu.54 The LTTE, which had earlier seen the AIADMK as its support base, now found it expedient to look to the DMK for help.

The Assembly election in Tamil Nadu was due in 1989. In this election competitive Dravidian politics on the Sri Lankan ethnic strife played a considerable role. The DMK made its opposition to the 1987 Accord an important issue for campaign in the State. Dr Manivannan has observed: “The party was seemingly gaining a new hold in the State by exploiting the people’s sympathy for the Tamils in Sri Lanka and was even prepared to fight elections in this count.”55 However, the victory of the DMK can also be attributed to the AIADMK split after MGR’s death and its weakened position.

When the DMK came to power in the State, they continued the policy of supporting the LTTE. Providing support to the militants had begun earlier from 1983 as part of the Central Government’s plan of action. Once the process started, it gathered its own momentum, and even if the DMK was willing to retract, New Delhi probably could not have completely reversed the ground situation. Therefore some contradictions relating to India’s Sri Lanka policy surfaced. While the IPKF soldiers were embroiled in a fight with the LTTE in Sri Lanka, the injured militants were getting sanctuary and medical treatment in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu. Such activities cannot totally be attributed to the wilful neglect of a State Government that had been sympathetic and vocal for the Sri Lankan Tamil cause, because similar things had happened even in the immediately preceding period when no elected government was there in the State.

But under the DMK Government, the law and order situation steadily deteriorated. The LTTE control ran over Tamil Nadu’s coastal villages and towns that faced the northern part of the Island and the Jaffna peninsula. Things reached an extreme point when on June 19, 1990, the Tigers stormed into an apartment at Zachria Colony in Kodambakkam in Chennai, and sprayed bullets at thirteen top EPRLF leaders, including its Sectary-General, K.Padmanabha.56 The National Front Government hesitantly intervened to ask the DMK Government to take serious note of the implications of the growing LTTE presence in the State.57 But Dr Manivannan has observed that “it was too late for the DMK Government to retrieve the situation because it had already conceded too much liberty to the LTTE outfit in Tamil Nadu”.58 In January 1991, the DMK Government was dismissed and replaced by President’s Rule ostensibly on grounds of deteriorating law and order situation in the State due to the LTTE presence, even though the real reason for dismissal was the pressure exerted by the Congress-AIADMK faction to the minority Chandra Shekhar Government which depended on the Congress support for survival at the Centre. The culmi-nation of the LTTE’s murderous activities came when it successfully assassinated former Prime Minister and the Congress’s prime ministerial candidate, Rajiv Gandhi, during an election campaign in May 1991. Rajiv Gandhi’s murder turned the fortunes of the LTTE in Chennai, and the support for it in the State evaporated altogether. The Tigers were banned in India within months and any “material assistance” to them was made illegal.59

In the ensuing Assembly and parliamentary elections in Tamil Nadu, the LTTE factor figured in a big way. Here we may quote Dr Mani-vannan’s observation in his article ‘1991 Tamil Nadu Elections’:

The AIADMK-Congress (l) alliance placed two major issues before the Tamil Nadu electorate. First, the alliance attributed the increasing lapse in the maintenance of law and order to the growth of the LTTE’s strength and hold in coastal Tamil Nadu. It charged the LTTE with converting the State into an extended base for its activities and network amongst the anti-social elements, particularly smugglers, in the coastal belt. The main ground on which the dismissal of the DMK Government was sought was its indifference to these developments and its tolerance to the menace of ‘gun culture’ in the state. Secondly, the AIADMK-Congress(I) alliance also submitted to the President a memorandum of corruption charges against the DMK Government...60

The deteriorating law and order situation in the State and the immediacy of Rajiv Gandhi’s murder worked to swing the electoral fortune in favour of the AIADMK-Congress alliance in both the Assembly and Parliament elections and they won an overwhelming majority. With coming to power in the State the AIADMK under Jayalalitha totally distanced themselves from the LTTE and its cause and the period of active involvement in the Sri Lankan conflict ended.

2.2 Non-Intervention and Tamil Political Fragmentation

In the new phase, with the Centre’s avowed non-interventionist stance on Sri Lanka’s domestic conflict, Centre-State cooperation on the issue evenly continued. In distancing itself from the militants the State politics continued toeing the national policy line, just as it had moved along the Central Government’s inter-ventionist posture in the decade of the 1980s. From this time onwards, support for the Sri Lankan Tamil cause in the State more or less disappeared and did not appear as a factor in electoral campaigns for a long time to come. Although support for the Sri Lankan Tamil issue disappeared from the main Dravidian parties, advocacy of the Sri Lankan Tamil cause was still pursued by Tamil Nadu’s fringe political groupings, who found some political space to espouse their stand on the matter. We may briefly turn to the subtle shifts in the State’s political landscape at the time.

In the decade of the 1990s, there were some changes in both the national and local level which had their effect on the State polity. At the national level, there was a decline of the Congress party and due to the absence of a strong alternative an era of coalition politics arrived, where one of the two main Dravidian parties consistently took part in coalition formation.61 The presence of the Dravidian parties as coalition partners tended to increase their lobbying power for their State, in relation to the Central Govern-ment. The decline of the Congress at the national level also saw a simultaneous decline of the party at the State level.62

In the State the two main Dravidian parties also faced a decline in popularity. A process of political fragmentation seemed to be underway, whereby new parties were emerging on the basis of caste identity, thus eating into the traditional support base of the DMK and AIADMK. Scholars have explained this proliferation of caste-based parties in terms of the failure of the Dravidian movement to develop into a pan-non-Brahmin movement.63 It is argued that the policy of reservation in education and jobs have benefited particular caste groups64, specially the upwardly mobile middle groups, at the cost of the lower Scheduled Castes, particularly the Dalits, among whom a process of autonomous mobilisation have begun,65 as separate from the Dravidian mainstream. They have started forming their own political parties.

Although the support for the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict evaporated from the mainstream of Tamil Nadu’s polity and public life, support still resonated among the State’s radical fringe political and social groupings. These parties do not present an alternate ideology, but mostly draw on the existing Dravidian ideology. One such prominent party is the PMK, chiefly based on the support of the Vanniyar caste, concentrated in the northern part of Tamil Nadu. It is vocal in its support for the LTTE and endorses their demand for a separate Eelam as solution to the ethnic conflict.

Another such radical grouping is the MDMK, which was formed as a breakaway group
from the DMK under the leadership of V. Gopalaswamy or Vaiko. This group also supports the LTTE’s armed struggle for an independent Tamil Eelam. Apart from them, parties like the DPI, DK, Periyar DK and other groups like the Tamil National Movement of Nedumaran also support the cause of an independent Tamil Eelam. The importance of these political parties lay in the fact that they started forming alliances with the two main Dravidian parties for capturing power in the State and some of them also found position in the Central Government, even if not in large numbers. And at times, we see the fringe parties utilising their new found political space, created by the decline of the national parties in Tamil Nadu and the decay in the Dravidian movement, for voicing their support of the Sri Lankan Tamil cause.

This is exemplified in India’s attitude to Sri Lanka’s call for help in mid 2000. When the Sri Lankan Government was facing a military crisis in its war with the LTTE in April-May 2000 and approached the NDA Government for help, the Indian response was somewhat tempered by the concerns of the Tamil Nadu coalition partners. The Indian Government ruled out not just military intervention, but also supply or sale of arms to the Sri Lankan Government.66 Even the Indian announcement that humanitarian assistance would be given to Sri Lanka when asked for, was not to the liking of some of the Tamil Nadu coalition partners like the MDMK and PMK.67 They have been quite vocal about their support for a separate Tamil Eelam, as against the clearly declared Central Government stand of respecting the unity and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.68

The number of more radical parties that emerged by the mid-1990s, and their vocal support for the Sri Lankan Tamil issue could not alter the situation in any meaningful way. The two important Tamil Nadu parties still retained the reins of power in the state and continued their support to the Central Government in its policy towards Sri Lanka. And when they engaged with these parties in State level politics, they still managed to operate with them on their own terms.

2.3 New Delhi’s Covert Support and the Balancing of National and Local Interests
by the Dravidian Majors

From around the 21st century, a gradual and low profile shift in India’s policy towards Sri Lanka could be noticed. The Indian Government was gradually adopting a pro-Sri Lankan Government attitude from its earlier neutrality, which created discomfort for the Tamil Nadu political parties who were part of the Central Govern-ment. The mainstream Dravidian parties had to engage in a balancing act between their interests at the Centre with those at the State. In Tamil Nadu, the escalation of the civil war between the Sri Lankan Government and the Tigers and growing refugee inflow from across the straits created a situation when the issue once again started having resonance in its public life. Intensification of the conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and the Tamil rebel forces from 2006, and more specifically the GOSL air attack on the Sencholai orphanage centre in August that year, brought back sympathy and support for the Sri Lankan Tamil cause in the State.69 In this situation, the lobbying of the Tamil parties and obligations of coalition politics prompted New Delhi to keep its support for Colombo covert. That was the best concession the Tamil Nadu coalition partners could manage to extract from the Centre.

In the State, as this could emerge as an emotive issue, the political parties of the day seized on it. Thus we see that all the political parties came together in the State Assembly to pass a unanimous resolution which condemned the Sri Lankan Air Force raid on the orphanage as “barbaric, uncivilised and inhuman”.70 The AIADMK, which had earlier taken a non-reactive approach to the Sri Lankan Tamil problem from 1991, started voicing its concern. Karunanidhi did not lag behind either. In the general election of 2009, the Sri Lankan Tamil issue again figured in campaigns and the ruling and Opposition parties in the State tried to outperform each other in their support for the cause. The much- publicised fast conducted by Karunanudhi in April 2009, and Jayalalitha’s declaration that her government would try to solve the ethnic problem by creating a Tamil Eelam through an armed intervention are examples of the competitive stance taken by the two main Dravidian parties in the State.

The Opposition forces tried to create the perception that the UPA Government at the Centre was covertly assisting the war effort of the Sri Lankan Government and its ally in the State, the DMK Government, was solidly supporting the Central Government in its policy. Such allegations were not without justification. While engaging in competitive Dravidian politics in the State, the DMK under Karunanidhi also kept in mind its national level alliance obligation. Hence, it cooperated with the Central Govern-ment, which had all along been giving covert support to the Sri Lankan Government’s war efforts. Karunanidih’s approach to the unfolding crisis in Sri Lanka has been aptly summarised in Professor Surya-narayan’s remark: “The shrewd politician that Karunanidhi is, he resolved to express concern for the sufferings of the Sri Lankan Tamils, while at the same time extending solid support to the Central Government’s policies on Sri Lanka. The end result was the DMK completely toeing the Central line on the Sri Lanka issue. Perceptive observers of Tamil Nadu politics cannot escape the conclusion that from the point of view of Karunanidhi power is the greatest aphro-disiac...”71 Propaganda against the DMK, however, failed to materialise in victory for the AIADMK and the Congress-DMK alliance won a comfortable victory in the election.

2.4 Continuing New Delhi-Tamil Nadu Cooperation in the Post-Conflict Situation

In May 2009 the three-decade-long ethnic conflict came to an end with the decisive military defeat of the LTTE, but the plight of the Sri Lankan Tamils still persist. In this post-conflict situation new issues are entering the Tamil Nadu political scene. The two main Dravidian parties more or less agree to the Central Government’s stand which stresses a political solution to the minority problem through meaningful devolution of power. They are vocal in their protest about the Sri Lankan Government’s gross human rights violation and war crimes in the final phase of the war. Both the parties have been urging the government to take necessary steps so that the Sri Lankan Government could be brought to book.

After coming back to power in the Assembly election of 2011, the AIADMK has continued to play the Sri Lankan Tamil card. Jayalalitha’s call for economic sanction against Sri Lanka in case the country did not cooperate with international investigation into the war crimes, her proposal to send a fact-finding mission comprising of Tamil Nadu MPs to Sri Lanka, her strong opposition to the training of the Sri Lankan military personnel in India are all part of competitive Dravidian politics on the issue. The DMK, on its part, organised a TESO (Tamil Eelam Supporters’ Organisation) meet in August, 2012 to call for a speedy solution to the Sri Lankan Tamil issue, while cautiously avoiding any endorsement for the creation of an independent Eelam.

While this is the position of the two main Dravidian parties, support for the creation of a Tamil Eelam as a solution to the ethnic problem continues among the more radical sections of the political groupings. A Tamil Nadu-based organisation, the Sri Lanka Tamil Protection Movement (SLTPM), created by the radical Dravidian parties who have traditionally been vocal for the Sri Lankan Tamil cause, still advocates the establishment of a separate Eelam as a solution to the problem72 even after the end of the Sri Lankan civil war. The SLTPM is backed by several like-minded civil society organisations such as the Tamil National Movement and the May 17th Movement. It is headed by Nedumaran and composed of PMK, MDMK, CPI, VCK and the Tamil National Movement.

In March 2012 India voted in favour of a US-sponsored resolution at the 19th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council that censured Sri Lanka for alleged human rights violations during the war with the LTTE.73 India’s support for the US-sponsored resolution might appear as a victory for the Tamil Nadu political groups of various shades who have championed the Sri Lankan Tamil issue. But the resolution’s effective-ness in advancing the Tamil cause seemed limited. It merely urged the Sri Lankan Government to implement the recommendations of a commission (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) Colombo had itself appointed to investigate issues of human rights violations during the conflict.

The problem of refugees, who have migrated to Tamil Nadu in many waves since armed hostility between the Sri Lankan Government and LTTE started, has also been largely politicised.74 As a result of competitive politics, the refugees are benefiting from some welfare schemes. Though the refugees still suffer from various problems, they are subject to many benefits that are not extended to the poor villages among whom the refugee camps are located which has created some resentment among the local villagers towards the refugees.75 The prospect of the return of the refugees is also fraught with problems. It appears that the Rajapakse Government’s current priority is with the rehabilitation of the IDPs rather than the repatriation of the refugees76 and the refugees for their part do not want to leave without ascertaining that conditions in the island are safe for return. A section of the refugees, who had been in Tamil Nadu for some time, and have given birth to children, are not sure whether they should have Indian citizenship or Sri Lankan citizenship for their children born in the refugees camps.77 Karunanidhi once floated the idea of citizenship for them but it was opposed on the ground that this policy has not been pursued with regard to refugees from other countries and could have adverse implications on other refugee groups in India.78 Karunanidhi also advocated the concept of Permanent Resident status for the refugees in 2009.79 This concept is alien to the Indian constitution and there was no progress on that either.80 The current policy of the Government of India is not to pressurise the Sri Lankan refugees to return to the island against their wishes.81

Among the refugees are many with overt or covert allegiance to different militant groups.82 The LTTE suspects are held in various prisons and special camps.83 One small section of the refugee population also engages in petty crimes like theft, robbery, etc. while a few others engage in white collar crimes such as forging passports and visas, while some other sections of them are taking illegal means to migrate to foreign countries, specially Australia.84 While such activities present a law and order problem for the State, the current authorities are not resorting to forced repatriation of the refugees as was done in the aftermath of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, due to the present political sensitivities.

Some Concluding Observations

What comes out of the above discussion is that the perception to the problem of the Sri Lankan Tamils in Tamil Nadu has changed with time and with the changing contours of the nature of the conflict, but more importantly by the changing nature of power politics in the State. The main determining factor in this regard has been the changing dimensions of Centre-State relations over the years. Initially the same Congress party that was at the Centre also formed the government in the State and at the Centre it had absolute majority. The might of the Congress and the political culture of the time were not conducive to Centre-State cooperation on foreign policy issues and the Indian Government took unilateral decisions in its policy towards Sri Lanka. At this initial stage, however, the problem of the Tamil minorities in Sri Lanka had not assumed severe dimensions and was not an important issue in bilateral relations. With the coming of coalition politics there was a change in Centre-State relations. The Centre and the State entered into a cooperative arrangement, but the Centre’s accommodation of the demands of the State had been minimal. It was the State which earlier had been vocal in its opposition to the Central Government’s policies, now came round to cooperating with the Central Government on the Sri Lankan ethnic strife, which by this time had emerged as the single most important issue in bilateral relations. The two main Dravidian parties started toeing the Centre’s policy line on the Sri Lankan conflict and the pitch of their support for the Tamil cause increased or decreased depending upon whether at that moment they were in power or in Opposition in both the State and the Central governments.

At another level, the ethnic conflict also affected the State’s own domestic policy, where the political parties started engaging in ‘compe-titive Dravidian politics’. For most part, such competitive politics have served no other purpose than advancing the respective parties’ own political gains. Real support has been extended only to such extent that has been permitted by the Central Government’s policy towards the issue. Some of the fringe Dravidian parties that have emerged in the decade of the 1990s have shown some consistency in their support to the Sri Lankan Tamil cause. But these are marginal groups that lack the necessary resource base and only provide moral support to the Sri Lankan Tamils. The present trend in Dravidian politics in the State suggest that even though these parties have gained some space to voice their concerns, the two main Dravidian parties are likely to stay in power in the State for some time to come, due to their command of superior resource base and organisation. (A.K.J. Wyatt, op. cit.)

Hence it is likely that the interests of the Sri Lankan Tamils will only find support in the State so far these do not contradict and fit in with the electoral interests of the main political parties in Tamil Nadu, and at other times, these will continue to be ignored. 


1. V. Suryanarayan, “Jayalalithaa and Indian Policy Towards Sri Lanka”, Transcurrent, May 30, 2011, http://transcurrents.com/news-views/archives/914

2. Sankaran Krishna, Postcolonial Insecurities: India, Sri Lanka and the Quest of Nationhood (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999). Also see A.K.J. Wyatt, “New Alignments in South Indian Politics: the 2001 Assembly Elections in Tamil Nadu”, Asian Survey, Vol. 42, No. 5 (2002), http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/as.2002.42.5.733.

3. Sankaran Krishna, op.cit., 81.

4. Ibid., 89.

5. Sankaran Krishna, op. cit. Also see V. Suryanarayan, “Is Tamil Nadu the Villain in India-Sri Lanka Relations?” Draft Paper for presentation in Pondicherry University, http://asiastudies.org/file/pdf_new/Is%20Tamil% 20Nadu% 20the%20villai n%20in%20India%20SriLanka% 20Relations.pdf.

6. G. Palanithurai, “Ethnic Movements in Tamil Nadu”, in Ethnic Movement in Transition: Ideology and Culture in a Changing Society, ed. G. Palanithurai and R. Thandavan (New Delhi: Kanishka Publishers, 1998), 14.

7. Ibid.

8. G. Palanithurai and K. Mohanasundaram, Dynamics of Tamil Nadu Politics in Sri Lankan Ethnicity (New Delhi: Northern Book Centre, 1993), http://books.google.co.in/books?id=Rd0ESgWLye sC&pg=PA71&lpg=PA71&dq=The+ DMK+mainta ined+some+sort+of+contact+with+th e+Sri+Lankan+Tamil+leaders+and+during+the+anti-Hindi+agitation+sp earheaded+by+the +DMk+it+was+ compared+with+the+language+struggle+of+th e+Tamils+in+ Sri+Lanka&source= bl&ots=1LraAzJgp6&s ig=wx9yt3kewth DMm05ycFrrSJZByY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=n-SQT7aSK4v krAfoyImbBQ&ved=0CCE Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q= The%20DMK%20maintained %20some%20sort%20of% 20contact%20with%20the%20Sri%20 Lankan%20Tamil% 20leaders%20and%20during%20the% 20anti-Hindi% 20agitation%20spearheaded%20by% 20the%20DMk%20it %20was%20c ompared%20with%20the%20lan guage% 20struggle%20of%20th e%20Tamils%20in%20Sri%20 Lanka&f=false

9. V.K. Padmanabhan, “Ethnic Question in Sri Lanka and the Politics of Tamil Nadu”, in Sri Lankan Crisis and Indian Response, ed. V. Suryanarayan (New Delhi: Patriot Publishers, 1991), 76.

10. Ibid. 

11. “Tamil Nadu Delegation-its visits and after-an article on Daily Mirror”, Global Tamil News, October 2009, http://www.globaltamilnews.net/GTMNEditorial/tabid/71/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/46631/language/en-US/Tamil-Nadu-delgation-its-visit-and-after-An-article-on-Daily-Mirror-.aspx

12. V.K. Padmanabhan, op. cit., 76.

13. Ibid.

14. Alfred Stepan, Juan J. Linz and Yogendra Yadav, Crafting State-Nations: India and other Multinational Democracies, (Maryland: John Hopkins University Press, 2011),http://books.google.co.in/books?id=ju7inAYnYgMC &pg=PT91&lpg=PT91& dq=from+1971+when+the+ Congress+faction+in +the+state+decided+not+to+compet e+against+DMK+in+the+state+assembly+and +formed+an+ electoral+ alliance+with+the+party&sourc e=bl&ots= b11Ob1wGJy&sig=zok_t3HUY1QQhNc-z-uNht0KjVs&hl =en&sa=X&ei=4MSJT5H vG8_PrQfKs7GzCw&ved= 0CCEQ6AEwAA#v=one page&q=from%201971% 20when%20the%20Con gress%20fac tion%20in%20the% 20state%20decided%20no t%20to%20compete%20against %20DMK%20in %20the%20state%20assembly%20and %20formed%20an%20elec toral%20alliance%20with% 20the%20party&f=false

15. A.K.J. Wyatt, op. cit.

16. Manoj Joshi, “On the Razor’s Edge: the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam”, Financial Express, 1996, http://www.psci.unt.edu/jbooks/TerrorBib_files/National-Separatist%20Terrorism/Joshi-On%20the%20Razor’s% 20Edge.pdf.

17. Sankaran Krishna, op. cit., 107.

18. S.D. Muni, Pangs of Proximity: India and Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Crisis (New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1993), 52.

19. P. Sahadevan and Neil Devotta, Politics of Conflict and Peace in Sri Lanka (New Delhi: Manak Publications Private Limited, 2006), 352.

20. Dr P.A. Ghosh, Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka and the Role of Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) (New Delhi: A.P.H. Publishing Corporation, 1999), 52-53.

21. S.D. Muni, op. cit., 53

22. P.A. Ghosh, op. cit., 58.

23. Ibid., 55.

24. J.N. Dixit, Assignment Colombo (Delhi: Konark Publishers Pvt Ltd, 1998), 14.

25. Ibid., 15.

26. Ibid., 14.

27. Ibid., 15.

28. “The Views of the Dravidian Parties on the Eelam Issue, Part 2-The Views of Izath Hussain”, Ilankai Tamil Sangam, July 7, 2007, http://www.sangam.org/2007/07/Dravidian_Parties.php?uid=2457

29. S.D. Muni, op. cit., 51.

30. V. Suryanarayan, “Is Tamil Nadu the Villain in India-Sri Lanka Relations?” Draft Paper for presentation in Pondicherry University, http://asiastudies.org/file/pdf_new/Is%20Tamil%20Nadu%20th e%20villain%20in% 20India%20SriLanka%20Relations.pdf.

31. Shankaran Krishna, op. cit., 171.

32. “Backlash”, India Today, Cover Story, August 31, 1983, 18.

33. Dr P.A. Ghosh, Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka and the Role of Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) (New Delhi: A.P.H. Publishing Corporation, 1999), 60.

34. “Stop targeting me on Sri Lanka issue”, The Hindu, Special Correspondent, June 13, 2011, http://www. thehindu.com/news/states/tamil-nadu/article2099329.ece

35. V. Suryanarayan, op. cit. 

36. Ibid.

37. N. Sathiya Moorthy, India, Sri Lanka and the Ethnic War (New Delhi: Samskriti, 2008), 122.

38. “Sri Lankan Tamils: DMK Approach”, Resolution of High-Level DMK Strategy Committee, March 20, 2012, http://www.dmk.in/Srilankan%20Tamils%20-%20DMK% 20Approach%20-%20English.pdf

39. K.T. Rajasingham, “Sri Lanka: the Untold Story,” Online Asia Times, March 2, 2002, http://www.atimes.com/ind-pak/DC02Df02.html

40. N. Sathiya Moorthy, op. cit., 122.

41. Ibid.

42. Manoj Joshi, op. cit.

43. Ibid.

44. Ibid.

45. Ibid.

46. Suryanarayan. op. cit.

47. Ibid.

48. Ibid.

49. “The Views of the Dravidian Parties on the Eelam Issue, Part 2-The Views of Izath Hussain”, Ilankai Tamil Sangam, July 9, 2007, http://www.sangam.org/2007/07/Dravidian_Parties.php?uid=2457

50. Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, www.tamilarangam.net, http://www.padippakam.com/document/ltte/General/v100632.pdf

51. Ibid.

52. “The Views of the Dravidian Parties on the Eelam Issue, Part 2-the Views of Izath Hussain,” op. cit.

53. Ibid.

54. Ibid.

55. R. Manivannan, “1991 Tamil Nadu Elections: Issues, Strategies and Performance”, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 27, No. 4 (1992), http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/4397536?uid=3738256&uid=2129&uid= 2&uid=70&uid=4&sid=47698919387247.

56. T.S. Subramanian, “Chronicle of Murders,” Frontline, Vol. 16, Issue 17, August 14-27, 1999. http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl1617/16171020.htm.

57. Manivannan, op. cit.

58. Ibid.

59. “India and Sri Lanka After the LTTE”, International Crisis Group,Asia Report, No 206 (2011), http://www. crisisgroup.org/ /media/Files/asia/south-asia/sri-lanka/206%20Indi a%20and%20Sri%20Lanka%20after%20the %20LTTE.pdf

60. Manivannan, op. cit.

61. A.K.J. Wyatt, op. cit.

62. Pradeep Chhibber and Geetha Murali, “Duvergerian Dynamics in the Indian States: Federalism and the Number of Parties in the State Assembly Election”, Party Politics, (2006),,P/Duvergerian%20Dyna mics%20in %20the%20Indian%20States.pdf. Also see A. K.J. Wyatt, op. cit.

63. Subramanian Swamy, “Is the Dravidian Movement Dying?”, Frontline, Vol. 20, Issue 12, June 07-20, 2003, http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl2012/stories/20030620003609800.htm

64. “The De-ideologisation of Politics is the Tragedy of Tamil Nadu, Interview with Karthigesu Sivathamby”, Frontline, Vol. 19, Issue 22, October 26-November 8, 2002, http://www.flonnet.com/fl1922/stories/2002110 8002409200.htm

65. Hugo Gorringe, “‘Voting for Ourselves’: Dalit Politics and Elections in Tamil Nadu”, School of Social and Political Studies, Edinburgh Working Papers in Sociology, No-25 (2006), http://www.sociology.ed.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/8495/WP25_Gorringe2006.pdf. also see A.K.J. Wyatt, op. cit.

66. “The Sri Lankan Crisis and Indian Dilemma”, Frontline, Editorial, Vol. 17, Issue 10, May 13-26, 2000, http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl1710/17100080.htm

67. Ibid.

68. At a Conference organised by the MDMK in Chennai in July 2000 the Union Home Minister L.K. Advani stated that “... we should do nothing that will promote secessionism in any country, specially a friendly neighbouring country”. In the same conference the leaders of the MDMK and PMK stuck to their point that establishing an Eelam was the only solution to the Tamil problem in Sri Lanka. (T. S. Subramanian, “Contradiction and Doublespeak,” Frontline, Vol. 17, Issue 14, July 8-21, 2000)

69. M. Mayilvaganan, “Tamil Nadu and the Sri Lankan Ethnic Crisis,” World Focus (2007): 201.

70. Ibid.

71. Suryanarayan, op. cit.

72. S. Ganesan, “Sri Lankan Tamils Protection Movement seeks release of all Tamils from camps”, The Hindu, October 30, 2009, http://www.hindu.com/2009/10/30/stories/2009103058920200.htm

73. “India’s vote against Sri Lanka not a ‘let down’: Chandrika”, The Hindu, April 11, 2012, http://www. thehindu.com/news/national/article3301128.ece

74. A.X. Alexander, “Impact of the Conflict on Tamil Nadu,” in Conflict in Sri Lanka: Internal and External Consequences, ed. V. R. Raghavan (New Delhi: Vij Books India Pvt. Ltd, 2011), 180. Also see V. Suryanarayan, “When will the Tamil Refugees Return to Sri Lanka?” in Ethnic Reconciliation and Nation Building in Sri Lanka: Indian Perspectives, ed. V. Suryanarayan and Sukumar Nambiar (Chennai: T.R. Publications, 2010), 121.

75. V. Suryanarayan, op. cit., 121.

76. Ibid., 114.

77. A.X. Alexander, “Impact of the Conflict on TamilNadu,” in Conflict in Sri Lanka: Internal and External Consequences, ed. V.R. Raghavan (New Delhi: Vij Books India Pvt. Ltd, 2011), 180.

78. Ibid.

79. T. Ramakrishnan, “CM reiterates permanent resident status to Sri Lankan Tamil Refugees,” The Hindu, November 3, 2009, http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/tamil-nadu/article42787.ece

80. A.X. Alexander, op. cit., 180.

81. V. Suryanarayan, op. cit., 129.

82. A.X. Alexander, op. cit., 174.

83. Ibid.

84. Ibid., 175.

The author is now pursuing her Ph.D programme in Leiden University, Netherlands.

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