Colombo Telegraph

Jayalalithaa’s Incredible Tenacity

By Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

Today 24, February is Jayalalithaa‘s 66th birthday and she is sitting pretty. Incredible woman that she is, she has just now said she will “counter in court” the action, by the Congress dominated Centre, to move the Indian Supreme Court for a restraining order, questioning the legality of her decision to release the 7 imprisoned for Rajiv‘s killing. As a result the decision to release has been held in abeyance; the Centre also disputing the powers of the Tamil Nadu State and her authority.

No doubt the lady is not for turning.

Win or lose in court on the release of the 7, Jayalalithaa has endeared herself to most Tamils all over the world by her decision.  The Hindustan opinion poll shows more than 81% approval for her decision. As always her incredible tenacity comes through in her every action and is to be admired. When better to acknowledge this fact than on her Birthday!

It’s Jayalalithaa’s same incredible tenacity on all Eelam issues that needs also to be acknowledged;  it is hoped this same tenacity shown by her for Eelam, gets rubbed on to other leaders as well.

And that is what the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) wants when it has “urged all political parties to include Sri Lankan Tamil issues in their election manifesto.”

In the matter of consistency, I have to disagree with Congress bigwig and Union Minister, Anand Sharma’ s allegations that Jaya has “changed her stand on the LTTE,” because of her decision to release the 7. It was a futile attempt to discredit her. Sharma has got it wrong; as someone studying her moves for a while, her position on what she perceived as LTTE violence has never changed; she had natural reservations, never wanting to support violence; always condemning Rajiv’s killing allegedly linked to the LTTE. Yet she listened and that is an asset for a politician, she did not want to identify with the LTTE but was sensitive to the plight of Eelam Tamils and over time realized that Tamil Eelam was justified and Eelam Tamils had to be liberated from a far greater threat, that of Sri Lankan state violence, oppression and persecution.

“Jaya acts fast to stamp her authority  in bold move to release 7 convicts in Rajiv’s case…” was my tweet as news came of the impending release of the 7 who many say are not the real killers. Let alone they got it wrong on the killers in my view, it is time India freed the prisoners, for the death sentences of Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan have been commuted to life. For that decision alone, the three along with Nalini and others should be freed, having been incarcerated for more than 23 years; simply on the grounds of ‘time served’.

Let’s just check her record on Eelam Tamil issues; since taking office as Chief Minister she has been consistently calling for an international investigation into war crimes during the last stages of the war and prosecution of those responsible. She has been loud and clear about imposing economic sanctions against Sri Lanka until and unless such an investigation takes place and all war criminals are prosecuted.

In pursuing her course she has exerted pressure on the UPA government to take “a firm stand” on resolutions against Sri Lanka each time the issue has come up at the UNHRC. Typically, at the 22nd session, condemning Sri Lanka’s continued “impunity” she demanded that Sri Lanka be called “to account”; debunking the LLRC report as a “flawed report” she asked that “India play a crucial role” and suggested important recommendations, calling India to make its own independent amendments to the draft, expressing concern against any dilutions to weaken such resolutions. For example she wrote to Manmohan Singh, reviewing the draft, that “in operative para 1. there should be an unequivocal call for a credible, independent, international mechanism to prosecute genocide, war crimes and war criminals and the accused should stand trial before an International Court.” Read Tamil Guardian link under reference for the full text of her letter to Manmohan Singh .

She has not merely paid lip service but where ever possible she has not failed to put her money where her mouth is; this she did when she banned Sri Lankan Cricketers from playing in TN , said no to IPL matches being played in TN where SL cricketers are featured – all this considering Tamil Nadu is a cricket crazy country and cricket brings big money.

And in that vein she has always maintained the dreadful Sri Lankan Army must not be trained in India and not definitely on her turf.

In keeping with her principled stance she has voiced her concern for Eelam Tamils and in defence of bestowing, “equal rights to them at par with the Sinhalese community,” she has not retreated on Eelam, passing yet another resolution in the TN legislative assembly calling for a Referendum on Tamil Eelam and been very particular to mention that the Eelam Tamil diaspora should be eligible to vote. She has never flinched but in contrast, the Indian UPA government still has to show in action that it means business when it calls for the implementation of the 13th amendment and beyond and actually spells out what it really means by that to the Sri Lankan government and to the world.

This call for a referendum is in line with her promise to the people in the 2009 TN state legislative assembly elections that if a government is formed in the centre that heeded her she, “would send the army to create Eelam…like Indra Gandhi did in Bangladesh.”

Just think of the lady’s tenacity. As the Lok Sabah elections are drawing near, a third coalition is in its formative stage with Jayalalithaa expected to become the prime ministerial candidate. Although a number of other aspirants are also vying for it, she is leading by far.

It seems Narendra Modi is surreptitiously wooing Jayalalithaa, he would need her alliance surely which I would promote, except as things are Jaya’s prime ministerial ambitions could stand in the way. I have this gut feeling BJP need her, when I can see on twitter that many in the BJP including Modi are rushing to greet her for her birthday.

None of the center parties have spoken on issues relating to Eelam in their campaigns yet, not even Modi while visiting Chennai except expressing concern for the TN and Gujarati Fishermen who have been let down by the UPA govt which he says has been weak and failed to earn the respect of India’s neighbours – the TN BJP head could have briefed him – but they opted to be silent on the subject. Although to woo the TN voters Modi began his speech with “Tamilukku Amuthendru Peyar” and “Tamil Manne Vanakkam”. I believe Subramaniyam Swamy could prove a liability for BJP in TN with his anti Jaya, anti Eelam Tamil rhetoric unless they ask him to shut up. Vaikkho is at present aligning himself with BJP but stayed away from the BJP Chennai public meeting, he is still negotiating for a fair allocation of seats but how many can he win?

It is true that Karunanidhi hailed Jaya for her decision on the release of the 7 at first because he could not do otherwise but is now backtracking. Talking about the K clan, the Karunanidhi brothers are having a bitter family feud over who would prevail and capture the DMK leadership after the old man is gone – the father has anointed Stalin over Alagiri  the older son. According to Jaya the father had written to Manmohan Singh asking for special security for Stalin as he is vulnerable to threats to his life from various quarters including the LTTE. Jaya making a big issue of this, exposes Karunanidhi for his hypocrisy when such a threat in her words does not exist with the LTTE long gone. Jaya loves to ridicule Mr. Karunanidhi  for staging a bogus fast and breaking it when the Tamil Holocaust happened right before his eyes while being part of the Congress led UPA govt. The political parties are haggling and rushing to form alliances. Some are mum about their plans. The DMK is not talking yet as far as I know. With the 2g case hanging over his family members, Karunanidhi is forced into a corner and will tread softly and won’t reveal his moves although tied somewhat to the present UPA government in that sense.

Yet Jayalalithaa vows to win all 40 Lok Sabha seats promising a couple of seats to the left parties.

An AIADMK minister speaking to IndiaToday on Jaya’s announcement seems to sum it all up as he elaborates on Jaya’s  enviable situation : “While the DMK is finding it difficult to rope in the DMDK of Vijayakanth and the Congress virtually left in the lurch with no alliance partners and the BJP finding it equally difficult to convince Vijayakanth and find amicable solution for seat sharing with both the PMK and the MDMK, Amma’s announcement shows not only her confidence but also her absolute grip on the state’s politics”, a senior AIADMK minister told IndiaToday.”

So the Lady is as strong as ever, poised for victory come April, on a slogan of “Peace, Progress and Prosperity,” having unveiled her 2nd major initiative” as a part of her over all vision for TN “to give fillip to industrial growth by attracting  investments” and making TN an Industrial hub and a super state!

Yes it is her incredible tenacity, that does not come out short, even on issues relating to Eelam, that should surely spread and set an example among other leaders which I am hoping would win us Eelam in the not so distant future!

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