With their vocal and targeted campaign, they were the toast of the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. But, pro-Tamil outfits, which used to be hyperactive during the election season, are surprisingly missing in action this time around.
These political outfits, wedded to the Sri Lankan Tamil cause, have ensured the downfall of many a Congress candidate last time. A rattled Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram could win only by a controversial wafer-thin margin. Besides making the DMK feel the pinch, they succeeded in the political isolation of the Congress.
Strangely enough, these organisations have now kept a studied silence on their preference and appear to be hesitant to take the plunge in the poll arena. Last time, when the elections were held, the war in Sri Lanka was at its peak. With the support of a motley group of youth, mostly techies and law grads, Rajiv Gandhi entered the fray in the Sivaganga constituency giving jitters to the Congress camp. The youth, hailing from a traditional Congress family in nearby Ramanathapuram, was a candidate of the Muthukumar Makkal Ezhuchi Iyakkam, named after the ‘first martyr’ of the pro-Eelam protests here. Their campaign had a resonance with the electorate and though they could not secure votes, they helped turn the tide against Chidambaram. Similar was the case with local Congress strongman EVKS Elangovan, who was trounced in his native Erode, primarily due to the campaign of the Tamil parties and groups.
Pro-Tamil Outfits Yet to Take Poll Call
Then, why the hesitation to take the plunge and the inexplicable silence now?
‘May 17 Movement’ organiser Thirumurugan Gandhi admitted that pro-Tamil outfits have not taken a clear stand in this election.
Working against a single party, in his view, would only result in an undue advantage to another.
Prominent LTTE apologist Nedumaran keeps a studied silence on extending electoral support.
However, Naam Tamilar Katchi coordinator Seeman, another diehard LTTE supporter, had announced that his party would support the AIADMK, but will be neutral towards the MDMK, even while remaining opposed to the BJP and DMDK.
But others are not so forthcoming. In the reasoning of Elangovan, a functionary of the Save Tamils Movement, the need was to fix accountability for the genocide of Lankan Tamils on the Dravidian parties as well.
“While we succeeded in fixing it on the Congress and isolating it politically, we felt Dravidian parties can’t escape by paying lip service to the Eelam cause. There’s a need for a programme and move beyond the Eelam issue to be more inclusive. We didn’t want to rush as we did emotionally last time,” Elangovan said.
Outfits like the Save Tamils and the Periyar Dravida Kazhagam were carrying out a campaign to expose the BJP’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi.
However, they remain a low key affair.
In their absence, the Congress and DMK need not worry about the Lankan Tamil issue returning to haunt them. But, that would not help them swim ashore either.