2008: Sri Lankan Tamils Issue Assumes Centre Stage in TN

2008: Sri Lankan Tamils Issue Assumes Centre Stage in TN

Shifting of alliances by parties, Sri Lankan Tamils' issue assuming centrestage again and the reunion of Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's family with the Maran brothers dominated the political scene in 2008 in Tamil Nadu, which reeled under severe power shortage.

The Left parties forging an electoral alliance with the AIADMK after snapping ties with DMK is expected to alter political equations in the state ahead of next year's Lok Sabha polls.

At the fag end of the year, the state witnessed one of the worst natural calamities when cyclone Nisha hit its coast, paralysing normal life for over a week, killing over 200 people and causing extensive damage to standing crops.

Despite sharing similar views on several issues including Sri Lankan crisis, DMK snapped ties with PMK following chasms created by the fiery remarks of party founder S Ramadoss's close confidant J Guru against the ruling party members.

Karunanidhi bid a farewell to his "in-house critic" Ramadoss from his party-led Democratic Progressive Alliance (DPA) and Guru was detained under the National Security Act, one of the tougher laws in the country.

AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa fired the first salvo when she ensured that the two Left parties which shouldered the DMK in the 2006 assembly polls, parted ways with the ruling party to join hands with her after falling out with the DMK on its support to the Indo-US nuclear deal.

 While CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat and Jayalalithaa formalised the tie-up after a few months of courtship, the entry of the CPI only remains a formality now.

However, DMK is staring down the barrel, thanks to its break-up with Left parties and PMK, prompting many to say that 2008 was its year of "political divorces".

Karunanidhi had a tough time this year in managing his allies with even Congress openly demanding its inclusion into the DMK cabinet.

Though the DMK chief reluctantly told a public meeting that he was ready to consider sharing of power with Congress, the grand old party's high command in Delhi gauged Karunanidhi's mood and asked its Tamil Nadu unit to treat power-sharing issue as a "closed chapter".

After a smooth sail to power in 2006 and having a relatively comfortable year in office in 2007, the same cannot be said of the government this year as it has been drawing a lot of flak over different issues including the power crisis.

With Lok Sabha elections just months away, DMK has already started negotiations to bring PMK back to its alliance though its chief Ramadoss is keeping his cards close to his chest.

But Jayalalithaa could still spring a surprise by roping in PMK as she had recently said "wait and see" when asked whether the caste-based party will be part of her alliance.

The image-hit DMK brought back the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, which was dormant since the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, to the centrestage again and threatened that its MPs will resign if the Centre did not take steps to arrange a ceasefire in the island nation.


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