The Military Column

14th April 1996

The difference between the LTTE and Eelam

By Our Military Analyst

The LTTE and its thinkers have begun to reflect on the forthcoming Indian elections. The LTTE believes the outcome of the elections will affect India's policy towards Sri Lanka, the insurgency and the Tamils.

The Tamil Nadu government and New Delhi have played a major role in Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict and in the insurgency since 1983. India's overall foreign policy towards Sri Lanka is regarded as of paramount importance and interest to the LTTE.

Indian hard-liners in the security and intelligence spheres have advocated time and again that even if Colombo grants Eelam, New Delhi will not allow it. This is based on the critical thinking that the extremists in Tamil Nadu will use Tamil Eelam as a launching pad to create political unrest there.

Sri Lankan government has praised the Congress (I) AIADMK alliance and their foreign policy as one of the best regarding the Sri Lankan conflict. Although, the alliance has not benefited Sri Lanka politically or militarily, it has not damaged Sri Lanka.

Such a position was adopted by these two parties in the wake of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination by the LTTE. Rajiv Gandhi's death fuelled the sympathy to return Congress(I) to office and the AIADMK which had an alliance with Congress(I) in Tamil Nadu won overwhelmingly.

The fact that Tamil Nadu politics and Sri Lankan security is inter-twined particularly in times of crisis is becoming increasingly clear. The LTTE has realized this and is studying the situation very closely.

According to Prem Sivasamy, Manchester University, one of the thinkers of the LTTE ,"The DMK which was unreasonably dissolved by the centre, Chandrasekar-Rajiv government , lost almost all the seats. The last four years have been much different in Tamil Nadu assembly where only one party dominated and its Chief Minister Jayalalitha had her iron fist on it. Now another election is due to start soon and the parties are busy in making alliance and talking their seat numbers".

Mr. Sivasamy adds, "as far as Eelam Tamils are concerned, the past years have not been good. The Indian government has done all the atrocities during this period without direct involvement, helping Sri Lankan Navy, arming them, training them to, terrorise Tamil Nadu people with CBI and so on. It was justified with the Rajiv assassination and some Tamil Nadu people have started supporting central government in its action against Eelam Tamils"

What is interesting is a statement that the LTTE supremo Prabhakaran made in the light of the developments in Tamil Nadu. Prabhakaran said, "the LTTE would expect that whoever that comes to rule in Tamil Nadu to support the Eelam Tamils. If they are unable to do so, they should at least remain neutral". This was a sort of a threat.

It must be remembered that the LTTE has become very aware of benefits of changing the political currents by assassinations both in Colombo, and in India. The LTTE assassinated TULF leader A. Amirthalingam and several TULF politicians to emerge as the defacto leader of the Sri Lankan Tamils. The LTTE assassinated UNP leaders on the eve of an election for a particular purpose.

The LTTE assassinated Rajiv Gandhi on the eve of an election for a particular purpose. The LTTE knew that if Gandhi returned he would have re inducted the IPKF. The LTTE was correct in its assessment. With Gandhi dead, India lost a strong leader powerful enough to re induct Indian troops to a foreign country to fight a war.

The LTTE has now announced its position with regard to Chief Minister, Jayalalitha very clearly. It is likely that the LTTE will at least attempt to assassinate Jayalalitha. To quote Mr. Sivasamy, "The Tamil Nadu government cracked down all Eelam Tamil supportive activities in the state. All the Eelam Tamil refugees were forced to return to their homes where they would face the Sinhala Army's atrocities. Jayalalitha hardly condemns any attack on Eelam Tamils by the Sinhala nation. We lost almost all the support from the people who speak the same language, share the same culture and support our struggle, because of the central and state government's foreign policy. Thuklak S. Ramaswamy praised Jayalalitha for making the state of Tamil Nadu as Tiger free. She used her maximum power to crack it down".

The following political parties in the Tamil Nadu state have been identified as powerful actors that could affect LTTE strategies.

(1) The DMK led by M. Karunanidhi; (2) The AIADMK led by Jayalalitha; (3) The MDMK led by V. Gopalswamy; (4) The Cong. (I) led by Kumary Ananthan faction; (5) The Cong. (T) led by V. Ramamoorthy faction; and (6) The Cong. of G. K. Moopanar faction.

It is almost certain that the LTTE has already begun to support M. Karunanidhi. It is not a secret that the LTTE gave millions of rupees in gold to Mr. Karunanidhi as campaign funds. To quote Sivasamy, "M. Karunanidhi (MK) used to be a strong supporter of our struggle, then he was dismissed and accused of helping Tigers after Rajiv's assassination. Though he had a very supportive attitude, he has been afraid of telling it explicitly. The main reason for that is the Rajiv case. He expelled Gopalswamy, because Mr. Karunanidhi wanted to bring Stalin, his son into the party. Stalin is also supportive of our struggle".

After the expulsion of Mr. Gopalswamy, Mr. Karunanidhi adopted a somewhat an anti-Tiger position. The reason was clear Mr. Gopalswamy was a better friend of Prabhakaran than Karunanidhi. Gopalswamy was one of the few to visit Jaffna and spend time with Prabhakaran in the Mulativu jungles when the IPKF was in the country. But, Karunanidhi was wrong - he had misjudged the LTTE supremo Prabhakaran. Prabhakaran had no friends - only interests.

Mr. Karunanidhi was not very different from Prabhakaran either. Then Mr. Karunanidhi condemned the LTTE, saying that they had plotted to kill him. Mr. Karunanidhi made this statement with a desire to have an alliance with Congress (I) as a last resort to come to the power. Indian intelligence agencies believed this and Sri Lanka specialists of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) interpreted that the LTTE had planned to do so to bring Gopalswamy, an ardent LTTE supporter, to power.

Karikalan, Tiger Deputy, strongly condemned Mr. Karunanidhi for spreading the Tiger assassination story. The LTTE clearly told its view as that it is not for any political party in Tamil Nadu and that it is only fighting in Eelam, and not against the people of India and any political party. This was an obvious lie - the direction of Indian and Tamil Nadu politics was important to them - they wanted to control if not influence them.

It is not a secret that the LTTE supports 22 Tamil Nadu political and militant groups fighting for a separate Dravidstan. These groups have relatively limited support of three million from a Tamil Nadu population of 60 million. The most prominent of these groups - the Tamil Nadu Retrieval Force - has been used by the LTTE to carry out some operations in India. In fact, LTTE has trained about 1000 cadres of the Tamil Nadu Retrieval Force in northern Sri Lanka and in Myanmar's Twante, where the LTTE has a base.

Mr. Karunanidhi continued to change his position - he was a typical political animal. Having realized that his followers were unhappy about his remarks about Tigers, Karunanidhi said that he is not a Tiger supporter but a supporter of the Eelam people.

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