New Delhi: Even as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa barred Sri Lankan players from taking part in the Indian Premier League matches in the state, questions of whether her decision was made due to the competitive politics in Tamil Nadu were abound. "You say Tamils are suffering, I can tell you the Sinhalese come from Orissa, West Bengal and Bihar. So tomorrow if they decide that any Tamil who comes there will get beaten up, or will not be allowed to enter, I think there will be chaos," Janata Party supremo Subramanian Swamy said.
Jayalalithaa had played the Tamil card and wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding that no Sri Lankan player should play the IPL matches in her state. Raking up the alleged war crimes committed by Sri Lankan armed forces against Tamils in the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Jayalalithaa said that there was a lot of anger in the state against what happened in the island nation.
"When it comes to foreign policy, we have to look at it in a national way. In the elections, they adopted the Lankan army chief Sarath Fonseka. He is their candidate against Mahinda Rajapaksa, so why did you accept that?," asked Swamy.
In her letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Jayalalithaa had written, "In view of the popular antipathy and anger in Tamil Nadu against the actions of the Government of Sri Lanka, the Government of Tamil Nadu is of the view that IPL matches involving Sri Lankan players, umpires and other officials should not be played in Tamil Nadu. The Government of Tamil Nadu will permit IPL matches to be held in Tamil Nadu, only if the organizers provide an undertaking that no Sri Lankan players, umpires, officials or support staff would participate in these matches".
"We have seen how Mamata Banerjee embarrassed the Prime Minister on his trip to Bangladesh. So in coalition politics, you will always have parties which can call the shots and which have regional feelings aroused over a foreign policy issue. They will turn it into power politics within India. That is what's happening. You have already seen the examples of Pakistan and so on and so forth," said a former diplomat, KC Singh.
Earlier in February, Jayalalithaa had cancelled the Asian Athletics meet saying Sri Lankan players would not be allowed in Tamil Nadu. The AIADMK supremo had also asked the Central government to move amendments to the US-backed resolution on Sri Lanka over war crimes against ethnic Tamils. "Don't just support the US-backed resolution on Lankan Tamils issue at UNHRC, but strengthen it through suitable amendments," Jayalalithaa had written in a letter to PM Manmohan. India finally voted against Sri Lanka at the United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.
Meanwhile, Father Jegath Gasper Raj, founder of Tamil Maiyam, while agreeing there may be a political context behind Jayalalithaa's decision to ban Lankan players, said, "There may be political one upmanship here. But you should understand that today's context is so extraordinary. Horrendous human rights violation against Tamils by Lankan state are committed and there is a an international conviction about it".