The one good thing about following the politics of the land in the sub-continent is that there is never a shortage of drama.

Thirumavalan, a first time M.P who only weeks before demanded that the President of Sri Lankan Shri Rajpakse be prosecuted for his war crimes has quietly taken his place in the Tamil M.P’s delegation that visited Sri Lanka to witness first hand the relief measures and IDP camps.

The visit it appears was facilitated by an invitation from Rajapakse, and will also feature an interview with the President.

Thirumavalavan for all his rhetoric was shrewd enough to capitalize on the chance – a visit to Tamil areas he might hope will help better his electoral chances in Tamil Nadu.

Thirumavalavans flip-flop is in many ways an indicator of how Tamil chauvinists in mainland India have always misled Sri Lankan Tamils. By fanning ethnic passions with their excellent oratory skills many ambitious third-rung politicians seeks to paint themselves as protectors of the Tamil cause and people. It is not a unique modus operandi  –  forty years ago the DMK stirred up separatist venom only to abandon it for electoral gain by means of caste equations. Today anti-Sinhalese chauvinism has replaced anti-Brahminism. Thirumavalavan, Vaiko and other ‘protectors of the Tamil cause’ are products of the same Dravidian movement that gave rise to DMK. Like father – like son.

But the Dravidian movement once had an exception in the form of MGR. Once best-friends he soon became Karunanidhis political nemesis. But he had not come from the Dravidian political cesspool of ethnic chauvinism.

Born in Sri Lanka, and brought up in Kerala amidst extreme poverty MGR had made a fortune in the movie industry and quickly capitalised on it to become the Chief Minister. Perhaps it was his connection to the Sri Lankan island or his disassociation with the Dravidian dramatists – we may never know – MGR was perhaps the only politician who was honest with the Sri Lankans. He had once told Prabakaran not to be ambitious but to aim for an achievable settlement of the Tamil cause.

Simple as it may be it was the only piece of advise that could have avoided the tragedy that has befallen the Sri Lankan Tamils. MGR remains to this day the only politician that correctly reflected the mindset of the public in Tamil Nadu.

Whilst the public were, indeed remain, sympathetic to the civil rights cause of the SL Tamils they have been simultaneously antagonistic of LTTE’s maniacal operations against fellow Tamil organizations and later its disappointing conduct at every avenue that was made available for a negotiated settlement.

This was clearly demonstrated in the polls held in November 1989. MGR in an alliance with Rajiv Gandhi would sweep the elections even as IPKF continued to battle the LTTE only a couple of hundred miles away.

Today when the likes of Thirumavalavan,Seeman and Nedumaran aim to seek legitimacy by anti-Sinhalese rhetoric the SL Tamils that live abroad and in IDP camps  would do well to reflect upon these events that occurred almost twenty years ago.

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    Amar Govindarajan is a management professional based out of somewhere in South India. He spends his spare time in bird-watching, dog keeping and reading Popular science. He is also a member of the CRI Editorial team.

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