The flip-flop octogenarian
By G Babu Jayakumar - CHENNAI
Published: 22nd Jul 2012 12:20:15 PM
When DMK chief Karunanidhi called for an impromptu press conference last week to announce that the meeting of the Tamil Eelam Supporters Organisation (TESO), scheduled to be held on August 12 in Chennai, will not take up the issue of Eelam, the people of Tamil Nadu were amused. Though it was evident that he was making a mockery of his avowed ideals, no one was surprised over the flip flop. On April 30 Karunanidhi set a new agenda for Eelam when he announced the revival of TESO, which he himself started in 1985 only to wind it up the next year.
The earlier announcement on the revival evoked more scepticism among the people, particularly those in the state who have been consistently supporting the Eelam cause. “What was he doing all those years when he was in power?”, was the common refrain. Some felt that TESO could see Karunanidhi spewing fire that would make the Congress squirm. But the Congress ensured that did not happen. The day before he made the volte face, Union Home Minister P Chidambaran was at Karunanidhi’s CIT Colony house. So when Karunanidhi preempted a tough stand, people only said the leopard cannot remove the spots.
It was long ago that he lost his credibility mainly due to the routine political genuflection before the Congress and the Central government, for obvious personal reasons. In fact it was one reason the DMK lost the 2011 Assembly elections so badly.
The revival of TESO, which was seen more as an attempt to lock the stable after the horses have bolted, made some hope that Karunanidhi’s initiative might help arouse Tamil sentiments. So when he backtracked, there was widespread anger and consternation, which Karunanidhi, as is his wont, attributed to the media.
To put it in a nutshell, the latest flip flop of Karunanidhi earned more contempt and ire among the supporters of Tamil Eelam, both within his own DMK party and outside, as they felt cheated. But it is a costly mistake that he and his DMK have committed.
For, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa is now seen as a champion of the Tamil cause as she has been bravely confronting the UPA government by raising various issues that are close to the hearts of the Eelam supporters.
Very recently she was vocal in protesting against the Sri Lankan airforce personnel being trained in at the airbase in Tambaram near Chennai and then on Sri Lankan army officers visiting Wellington in the Nilgiris for a seminar.