BJP in Tamil Nadu, India

Election 1999

Tamils Should Vote for BJP

N. Trivedi

TAMIL TRIBUNE, August 1999 (ID. 1999-08-02)
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Abbreviations

AIADMK - All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

BJP - Bharatiya Janata Party

DMK - Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

MDMK - Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

PMK - Pattali Makkal Katchi

TMC - Tamil Maanila Congress

(AUTHOR's NOTE: I am not from Tamil Nadu, neither do I speak Tamil. I am writing this article just before the 1999 parliamentary elections to discuss why Tamils should vote for the BJP coalition so that the current BJP government may continue. The views in this article are my own and were not read, reviewed or approved by the BJP. I am just a BJP supporter, nothing more.)

People should vote not only on the basis of promises of future performance but also on the basis of past record. In fact, the latter should weigh in more heavily than the former. People of Tamilnadu have the option to vote for three alliances. One is headed BJP and supported by DMK, MDMK, PMK and a few other parties. The second is headed by Congress(I) and supported by the AIADMK and a few other parties. The third is comprised of assorted parties including the TMC. The lead party of each coalition has formed the Indian Central Government in the past in one form or another. BJP headed the most recent government for a little over a year. Congress(I) and its mother party (The Congress Party) have ruled India for about four decades. TMC is the dominant member of the third alliance in Tamil Nadu, and it was part of Congress(I) until a few years ago and its senior members had held ministerial posts. In its current incarnation as TMC, it was a partner in the United Front government and held senior cabinet positions. So each of these alliances has past records to be considered in voting decisions.

The plight of Sri Lankan Tamils is a burning issue in Tamil Nadu. We understand the concerns the people of Tamil Nadu have about the plight of fellow Tamils in the neighboring Sri Lanka. People of West Bengal were concerned about fellow Bengalis in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) during the 1971 oppression by Pakistani army. Arab people everywhere support the Palestinian cause of fellow Arab Palestinians. Jews, wherever they live, come to the aid of Israel when its survival is threatened. So, it is understandable that the people of Tamil Nadu would want the Indian government to help their blood brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka. Tamil Nadu voters should compare what the BJP government and the Congress(I) government have done in the past. The latter government helped the Sri Lankan government overtly and covertly when Mr. Narasimha Rao was Prime Minister. Mrs. Sonia Gandhi has not spoken of any changes to that policy and so Tamil Nadu can expect the same pro-Sri Lankan government policy to continue. BJP government under Mr. Vajpayee, on the other hand, has taken an even-handed approach to the Sri Lankan problem. BJP coalition partners included, and include, two of the staunchest supporters of Sri Lankan Tamils - Mr. Vaiko (MDMK) and Dr. Ramadoss (PMK). I am sure that BJP has and will continue to give a sympathetic ear to these two allies on how the sufferings of Sri Lankan Tamils can be ended. BJP's new ally Mr. Karunanidhi (DMK) is also a long-term supporter of Sri Lankan Tamils.

All in all, BJP government is good for Tamil Nadu, good for the Tamil people of Sri Lanka and good for India. TAMIL TRIBUNE should endorse the BJP coalition!

EDITOR'S RESPONSE:

TAMIL TRIBUNE is not endorsing any individual, party or coalition in the forthcoming parliamentary election. We are here to present diverse views to our readers. Mr. N. Trivedi expresses one such view. Other views are welcome.

Mr. Trivedi's contention that the BJP government was more even-handed with respect to "Sri Lankan Tamil" sufferings than the previous Congress(I) government under Mr. Narasimha Rao may be true by a very small margin (based on publicly known facts). Mr. Trivedi does not present any facts to support his contention, though. BJP supporters may argue that BJP was in power only for a little over a year and there was not much time to make dramatic moves. There is some truth to it. Also, this is not the last election. There will be another parliamentary election in five years or less. If the BJP coalition were to come to power in this election, we will keep a close watch on what it is doing and what it is not doing, and remember it five years from now.

Barring any new facts coming out before the election, the best we could say of the BJP government vis-a-vis Sri Lankan Tamils are:

1) PMK and the MDMK, two of the staunchest supporters of Sri Lankan Tamil cause in recent years, support the BJP. Just having leaders like Vaiko (MDMK) and Ramadoss (PMK) in the BJP alliance is not enough; we need evidence that their concerns about Tamil related issues are listened to by Prime Minister Vajpayee.

2) We remember with gratitude and affection that Mr. George Fernandez was one of the very few non-Tamil leaders who stood in support of the people of Tamil Eelam, starting from the mid-1980s, even though he has nothing to gain from it personally or politically. His support of the BJP government and Prime Minister Vajpayee appointing him the defense minister may be a plus for the BJP in the eyes of Tamil Nadu voters. We are a grateful people, we remember who were with us in our dark hours. (Many Tamils refer to the northeastern region of Sri Lanka as Tamil Eelam.)

3) BJP government was no worse than the previous Congress(I) and United Front governments on the issue of Sri Lankan Tamils.

I concentrated on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue because Mr. Trivedi emphasized it. It is of course a burning issue. Stop all overt and covert support to Sri Lanka including intelligence information and logistic help for their naval operations, and see the votes for BJP increase. Tamil Nadu voters will consider, in addition to BJP's position on "Sri Lankan Tamils", other issues of concern such as Hindi-imposition, autonomy for states, central government funding for industrial, infrastructure and social/welfare projects in Tamil Nadu, and protection for Tamil Nadu fishermen from the Sri Lankan Navy which has killed several dozens of our fishermen. Sink a Sri Lankan Navy ship next time they attack our fishermen, and see the swell of support for BJP in Tamil Nadu.

TAMIL TRIBUNE urges Tamil Nadu voters to compare each alliance with reference to these issues of importance to Tamil Nadu, give plus and minus on each count, and vote for the alliance that comes out ahead in score.

----    1999-a1d

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