By Hasaka Rathnamalala
So far, highly contaminated breathing air in the city of Chennai, made me sick twice. Unplanned, dusty and stinking city of Chennai is overwhelmed with election fever. Incumbent Chief Minister Karunanidhi’s huge cut-outs seem to be an indication that he is not ready to bow out yet. Opposition leader Ms. Jayalalitha is looking for new issues and this time allied with pro LTTE hit groups, in order to make a change; but seems to be failing according to latest polls. For whatever reason, for the first time in a long time; Sri Lanka is not an election issue in Tamilnadu. Even though they raised fishermen issues with Sri Lankan navy, in the early part of the campaign; it did not catch the anticipated spin.
There are many issues in the air, but no one seems to be interested of bringing them out. Millions of Tamilnadu citizens are living in shanty towns and millions more are living outdoors on the road. Water born diseases are frequent even among those who are living in good houses. Pipe born water seems to be the disease carrier. Even bottled drinking water needed to boil before drinking. No toilet facility for millions and going out on the side of the road is a common site in the morning. Discrimination based on Hindu caste system is a common issue in every work of life. Poor are always poor and wealthy people getting wealthier; if there will be no solution to dangerously unequal distribution of wealth, it will definitely ruin India’s modern day economy quicker than you think. I am sure there are thousands of more issues throughout the state to be solved, but in the lack of Sri Lanka as an issue; Tamilnadu politicians have decided to distribute free laptops and grinder mixers to voters. Currently the laptop distributer is leading the polls and the grinders have no much demand.
Even though time to time Tamilnadu politicians are making huge noises about Sri Lanka we should not make the mistake of reading those noises, as Tamilnadu citizens are deadly obsessive of the issues of Sri Lankan Tamils, LTTE or their so called separation struggle. Any such passion has been buried with the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.
Today Tamilnadu Tamils are more “Indian” than “Tamil”, and therefore Sri Lankan Tamils are far away in their priority list. Even, being a Sri Lankan Tamil and living in Tamilnadu is a gun raising cum eye rising event. Every Indian embassy throughout the world has received clear instructions to watch out for Sri Lankan Tamils with connection to LTTE trying to sneak into Tamilnadu. Most Sri Lankan Tamils I met in Chennai like to identify them as Sri Lankans rather than Tamils; they seems to be much more interested in speaking Sinhala with me rather than English or Tamil. I challenge those Ealam dreaming diaspora Tamils who are still waving LTTE flags in every corner of western cities, to visit Tamilnadu once; and realize that you are alone and have been used by selfish Tamilnadu politicians to fulfil their day today petty political aspirations.
One of the reasons, these Tamilnadu politicians bullying Sri Lanka is the Katchchathive island issue. Even though the central government of India resolved its issues by signing “Katchchathive agreement” with the Sri Lankan government; Tamilnadu bullies are still raising Katchchathive as a fishermen’s issue; and use that to tap into voters in their costal belt.
In fact the truth is these fishermen in Tamilnadu want its politicians to negotiate a free encroachment deal to Sri Lankan waters and let them exploit Sri Lanka’s natural resources whenever and whatever the way they want. According to some Tamilnadu fisheries experts, thousands of Tamilnadu trawlers are encroaching Sri Lankan borders on day to day basis and very few get caught. For that they make big noises. The noise about necessity of renegotiating “Katchchathive agreement”, is a way of pulling the envelop back in to the table. Indian central government also wanted to keep this harassment going as it is in the business of using Tamilnadu, as a pawn against Sri Lanka in its regional struggles.
In fact, some parts of “Katchchathive agreement”, such as allowing Tamilnadu fishermen to dry their nets in the island is unrealistic, according today’s realities; because there are hardly any peddle boats go fishing that far today and all you see is thousands of “three day” trawler boats which go directly to their anchoring points at the end of harvesting. What they really need is to use Katchchathive as a base when encroaching into Sri Lankan waters. If that happened, Sri Lankan Navy or coast guards may have to increase their strength to a mammoth level in order to secure their boarders and protect the natural resources of the island nation.
Today, silver screen gods and their cultures have taken over Tamilnadu politics; and they are expecting a win in every step of the way; as in their cinema life. Question is would these heavies ever understand the reality or would the voters of Tamilnadu ever realize that they have been involuntarily casting as sub characters of an unrealistic Tamil commercial movie and don’t know how to get out of it? Until they realize that, neighbouring Sri Lanka has to perform the part of the mistaken villain, while actually being victim of an actual villain.