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Sri Lanka: Unthinking belligerence
This article originally appeared in CRI content has now been subsumed in The views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors of

Must the BJP allow the likes of Vaiko to hijack its Sri Lankan agenda?

I’ve just learnt that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week informed Vaiko that India is not going to able to place the Sri Lankan State under economic sanctions for failing to act against those who participated in the unprecedented massacre of Tamil civilians during the closing phases of the civil war. Vaiko has been demanding such sanctions amongst other things like placing Sri Lankan President Rajapakse under trial for war crimes.

Vaiko is fully entitled to his views and perspectives on the Sri Lankan civil conflict. Afterall this is a politician who has for nearly three decades backed the Tamil LTTE cause of carving out an independent Tamil Eelam with unflinching chauvinism to match his southern Sinhalese rivals. His is a political personality whose only platform in the public space is that of a repeatedly discredited, electorally defeated ethnic chauvinistic hyperbole.

This is also the same politician who confidently declared that Prabakaran continued to live long after the Sri Lankan forces displayed pictures of the LTTE supremo’s dead body. To expect that such a political leadership would seriously deliberate as to what his public stance on a post-war Sri Lanka should be is to be a little naive. The man would stick to his guns, and cry hoarse until his Eelam is made. This is as certain as the sun would rise in the east. So long as the source of such unthinking belligerence is limited to Vaiko-like non-entities one need not be worried. However, the malaise seems to be spreading.

The same news report that informed us of the Prime Minister’s confession also tells that  BJP’s Yashwant Sinha has come out strongly in support of Vaiko. It seems he declared:

I will also join you and we will all set sail for Sri Lanka and go there and tell the world that India is with you.

We will mount an unarmed attack on Sri Lanka. We would like to tell the world that Indians are solidly behind the Eelam Tamils

It is not my case that the BJP should refuse to address the question of war crimes. We have seen a steady supply of incriminating videos and testimonies of Sri Lankan war-time excesses. Any respectable political force would lose its moral legitimacy if it chooses to totally shun this aspect of the war. Having said that it is imperative of any credible national political leadership to carefully deliberate and only then articulate as to how it views, amidst other things, achievable goals and settlements that can  lead to a closure of conflict.

The cacophony anti-Sri Lankan agitations are producing almost make it sound as if it would hurt the Tamil cause should one even think of getting the Sri Lankan State  to expedite its structured dialogue process with Tamil representatives.

After stalling in useless consultative meetings for nearly six months the Sri Lankan executive has by its actions made it amply clear that on the issue of  13th amendment based devolution of powers (which is the Tamil demand) it would quietly pass the buck to a Parliamentary Select Committee instead of committing to a resolution within the existing dialogue process.

In such circumstances the BJP would do the Tamils of Sri Lanka a great service if it spoke for the dialogue process to be given its chance. It would indeed be more purposeful than the mostly empty rhetoric emanating out of Dravidian homelands.  In civil conflict as in foreign policy belligerence may have its share but the moment its gains exclusivity any chance of reconciliation and political settlement are killed.

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