Hard facts on the road to reconciliation

BJP admits Indira created terrorism, reassures non-interference


by Shamindra Ferdinando

Having acknowledged that former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had blundered by providing weapons training for Sri Lankan terrorist groups in the 80s, Chairman of the Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP) Committee on Strategic Action, Dr. Subramanian Swamy on Monday (21) emphasised that India wouldn’t intervene in post-war Sri Lanka under any circumstance.

The BJP is the dominant partner in the National Democratic Alliance (DNA).

One-time Indian Foreign Secretary J. N. Dixit too, faulted Indira Gandhi for giving active support to Sri Lankan terrorist groups.

The former Union Minister Swamy recalled several failures on the part of successive Sri Lankan governments to address the national issue.

Referring to the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam pact finalized on July 26, 1957, Swamy called it a missed opportunity. The BJP official blamed Sri Lanka for not honouring it.

The agreement envisaged the creation of regional councils in accordance with an overall plan to give a certain level of autonomy to Tamil speaking people. Due to intense pressure from the majority community, the then Premier Bandaranaike abandoned it in May 1958.

Swamy was addressing a panel discussion titled India under Modi: relevance for the region and the world at the BMICH. Arranged by the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies, the event brought four other eminent BJP personalities including Dr. Seshadri Chari of the

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Other panelists were Dr. Swapan Dasgupta, Prof. Madhav Nalapat and Dr. Suresh Prabhu.

The BJP delegation basically asserted that the Tamil issue shouldn’t be allowed to undermine Indo-Lanka relations. Swamy said: “De-link Indo-Lanka relations from the Tamil problem,” while emphasizing the pivotal importance of economic development as well as closer regional cooperation among SAARC grouping. Swamy declared that Sri Lankan Tamil factor had never been an issue there and heavy electoral defeats experienced by those who campaigned on that particular issue at the recently concluded parliamentary polls revealed the true position. According to him, it hadn’t been an issue at 2009 elections either.

Swamy said that as an Indian he was delighted to see the annihilation of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Asserting that Sri Lanka’s triumph over terrorism was unparalleled, outspoken Swamy endorsed the political leadership given by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to the war effort. The Indian said that forcible recruitment of child soldiers was now a thing of the past. Due to the end of conflict, children now returned home after having attended schools, Swamy said, adding that husbands too, could come back after work.

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R. Sampanthan, MP, TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran, Chairman of UNP Leadership Council and parliamentarian Karu Jayasuriya, UNP MP Eran Wickremeratne and UPFA MP Prof. Rajiva Wijesinghe were among those present at the meeting.

Having briefly discussed the circumstances under which Prime Ministers were appointed in the post-independence era, BJP leader and Premier Narandra Modi wasn’t the nominee of any particular group or person, Swamy said. The BJP official went on to underscore the qualities of Modi vis-a-vis those who had held that position before, while highlighting the new Premier’s decision to invite President Mahinda Rajapaksa for his swearing in ceremony in spite of substantial opposition. The invitation extended to President Rajapaksa was in line with Premier Modi’s efforts at having closer relations with all SAARC countries, Swamy said. Commenting on new Indian foreign policy, Swamy said that Israel, Iran, Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia had been selected for special initiatives.

While condemning SAARC as a weak organisation, Swamy stressed the need to restructure SAARC without delay. He said that Premier Modi was keen to revive the grouping.


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