New Delhi: After calling LTTE chief Prabhakaran his good friend, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi on Monday flip-flopped from his stand, saying India could not forgive the LTTE for assassinating Rajiv Gandhi.
Apparently under pressure from an embarrassed Congress, the Tamil Nadu CM told CNN-IBN that the LTTE did not start of as a terrorist outfit but became one over time and that “one cannot forget that it is behind Rajiv Gandhi's assassination”.
However, earlier in an interview to a private news channel, Karunanidhi said Prabhakaran was his friend and that he would regret it if the LTTE chief was killed.
“Is Prabhakaran a terrorist? No, I don’t see it that way. Prabhakaran is my good friend. I am not a terrorist. I will deeply regret it if Prabhakaran is killed. I will regret it. I will say it happened because of a lack of unity among the Tamil groups in Sri Lanka".
“Some people in Prabhakaran's group might be involved in terrorism. But that is not Prabhakaran's fault,” he added.
Karunanidhi’s statement came on a day when Congress reiterated that it considered LTTE a terrorist outfit.
“As far as Indian Government is concerned, LTTE is a terrorist organisation and Prabhakaran is a terrorist. The Government and Congress party consider LTTE to be responsible for Rajiv Gandhi's assassination. We would expect Lanka to hand Prabhakaran over to us. Karunanidhi's remarks saying "Prabhakaran is not a terrorist" are his personal.
Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy says Karunanidhi's pro-Prabhakaran statement was made to outsmart Jayalalithaa on the Tamil issue.
“DMK chief Karunanidhi has no clear closeness with Prabhakaran. He made the comment because he wanted to take the pro-Tamil sentiments to a level where Jayalalithaa could not beat him. Ever since Priyanka Gandhi visited Nalini, the main accused in Rajiv Gandhi's assassination case, in the jail the Congress has lost the edge on having any strong views on the LTTE,” Swamy said.
Editor of Tughlaq, Cho Ramaswamy too feels Karunanidhi was trying to match Jayalalithaa in playing the Sri Lankan Tamil card.
“He has to match up to Jayalalitha. Jaya said she would strife for a separate country if there is no devolution of power. Karuna had to match, so suddenly he has hailed Prabhakaran. Of course, he is going back to his original stance - a decade ago he called Prabhakarn Bhagat Singh, Neta ji etc. He conferred every title on him except Gandhi,” Ramaswamy said.