CHENNAI: Arch rivals AIADMK and DMK today spoke in one voice against Narendra Modi's invitation to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa for his May 26 swearing-in as Prime Minister with Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa saying it is "unfortunate" and tantamounts to "rubbing salt into the wounds of the already deeply injured Tamil psyche."
The AIADMK supremo, a strident critic of the Rajapaksa administration, said Modi could have avoided the 'ill-advised' move of inviting the head of the island republic, especially with regard to the Centre-state relations.
Jayalalithaa's stiff opposition puts a question mark on her attending the ceremony in Delhi. A day after MDMK, an ally of BJP, opposed the invitation, DMK said Modi should understand the feelings of the Tamil people on this matter and could have avoided the invite.
Jayalalithaa, in a statement, said while the sentiments of Tamils living in India and elsewhere towards the Sri Lankan Tamils were known, a change of regime at the Centre "in no way alters the already existing strained relations between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka."
She recalled the various resolutions passed in the state Assembly demanding an economic embargo on Sri Lanka among others over the alleged war crimes by the island nation's Army under the Rajapaksa Government against Tamils there during the final stages of "civil war".
While the UPA Government "chose to ignore" the resolutions by not acting on them, there was a hope that the new regime would be sympathetic to the Sri Lankan Tamil cause, she added.
However, this "unfortunate move" of inviting Rajapaksa "has deeply upset the people of Tamil Nadu and wounded their sentiments all over again. This is tantamount to rubbing salt into the wounds of the already deeply injured Tamil psyche," she said.
"It is with a deep sense of anguish that we point this out to the new government to be formed at the Centre.Particularly, with regard to the relationship of the new Central Government with the Government of Tamil Nadu, it would have been better if this ill advised move had been avoided," she added.
Jayalalithaa's slamming of the move came within hours after BJP's state unit disclosed that she has been invited for Modi's swearing-in. The ruling party has not announced if she would participate in the swearing-in.
Modi had attended Jayalalithaa's swearing-in as Chief Minister in 2011 and she had returned the favour in 2012 by being present when he took oath as CM in Gandhinagar. DMK, whose leaders M Karunanidhi and M K Stalin had congratulated Modi for his party's win, said he could have avoided inviting Rajapaksa.
"Rajapaksa is part of SAARC union, so they might have sent the invitation. But the Prime Minister (designate-Modi) should also understand the feelings of people of Tamil Nadu," Elangovan, DMK's Organising Secretary and also party's spokesperson, said.
He said Tamils in the island nation were "attacked and human rights violations" against them were happening and most countries had criticised such activities.
"People of Tamil Nadu are charged with anger. He (Modi) could have avoided (inviting Rajapaksa)," he said.
Vaiko requested Modi to "avoid" the presence of Rajapakse in his swearing-in ceremony on May 26 and said he was saddened by news reports about the invitation being extended to the Sri Lankan leader.
Vaiko alleged that the Rajapaksa government "committed the unpardonable crime of genocide of hundreds and thousands of innocent Tamils" in the island nation.
He also accused the UPA Government of offering military and logistic support to Sri Lanka.
"... I would request you to extend the rays of hope to our Tamil people by totally avoiding the presence of Mahinda Rajapakse in the significant event of swearing in ceremony," Vaiko wrote said in a letter to the Prime Minister-designate.
Meanwhile, BJP found support from rival Congress, with its state unit President B S Gnanadesikan virtually defending the move.
"Congress has no second opinion on issues like equal political status to Tamils, implementation of 13th Amendment to Sri Lankan constitution (on devolution of powers) and probe into (alleged) war crimes. At the same time, if these have to be implemented, we have to talk to the Sri Lankan President only," he said.
Sri Lanka was "our neighbour" and a SAARC member and therefore it was in India's interest that friendly ties were maintained with that nation. "That is diplomacy," he said.
Meanwhile, Tamilaga Valvurimai Katchi, an ally of ruling AIADMK, announced a protest demonstration here on May 26 against Rajapaksa's visit.