Dismissing attempts by “certain forces” to isolate the Congress on the Sri Lankan issue in Tamil Nadu, Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, on Sunday, said the party had been the most consistent in its stand, as far as the Tamils issue was concerned.
On the contrary, it was the BJP that stood in the way of passing a robust resolution in Parliament against Sri Lanka as demanded by the DMK, he said. At a public meet to mark Dr B R Ambedkar’s birth anniversary, Chidambaram, in perhaps his first speech after the pullout of the DMK from the UPA, said his party had stood by the Tamils since the days of Indira Gandhi. The consistent call since the 1970s has been equal rights for the Tamil minority in the island nation by amending the constitution.
“In the process, we also lost a gem on this same Tamil soil for the stand we took, which cannot ever be compensated,” he said, referring to the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Elaborating on the sequence of events before and immediately after the DMK pullout, Chidambaram said, on March 18, he, along with two other senior ministers, visited the residence of DMK chief M Karunanidhi and held talks. The demand to amend the US-backed resolution in UNHRC with strong words and a new demand of passing a resolution in the parliament was placed before the troika.
“We said we will discuss with our leader and decide. Being a political party, how could we do otherwise?” he said. However, on March 19, even while the discussion on the draft of the resolution to be placed in the parliament was taking place, the news of the pullout trickled in.
“Even after this, we did not relent. I, in my own handwriting, drafted the resolution. The next day we called for an all-party meet to discuss the issue,” he elaborated.
At the meet, he said, apart from Tamil parties like AIADMK and the DMK, all others opposed the resolution. The BJP, in particular, he said was vehemently against the move with leader of the opposition Sushama Swaraj even calling the meeting needless.
“The only party apart from those from Tamil Nadu which supported the resolution was the Congress. Tamil people should know this,” he pointed out and said there was no basis for blaming the Congress of being anti-Tamil. For the UN resolution too, the envoy at the UNHRC was called to Delhi and handed over a set of six amendments to be moved. But the resolution even without the changes only scraped through even though a superpower like the US lobbied consistently. Chidambaram said the Congress had never denied the fact that human rights were violated during the war by the Rajapaksa government. It always maintained that the guilty should be punished. On the student protest, he pleaded that they do not deviate from the path of non-violence.