Release of Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict stokes embers of Tamil sub-nationalism

By Arun Lakshman

Chennai, May 22 (IANS): The ruling DMK and the opposition AIADMK are arguing over the release of Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict Perarivalan, who was freed by the Supreme Court on May 18.

Immediately after Perarivalan’s release, AIADMK leaders and former chief ministers O. Panneerselvam and Edappadi K. Palaniswami said in a statement that his release was a “total victory” for the party. The leaders said it was former Chief Minister and AIADMK leader, late J. Jayalalithaa, who said in a statement to the state assembly in February 2014 that if the central government does not take not immediately a decision for the release of the seven convicts, his government would move forward with the decision of the state cabinet to release the seven convicts.

The AIADMK leaders said that the government they led had decided in 2018 “boldly” to release the seven convicts and that it was this decision of the AIADMK government that formed the basis of the judgment of the Supreme Court.

The ruling DMK took a step forward with Chief Minister MK Stalin hugging Perarivalan hours after his release and saying the Supreme Court judgment was ‘historic’ and his release after spending 31 years in prison was a huge victory for the state.

Stalin met Perarivalan and his mother Arputham Ammal at the Chennai airport lounge hours after the Supreme Court’s verdict on his release.

Besides the two major Dravidian parties, smaller political parties formed on the basis of Tamil nationalism also welcomed Perarivalan’s release. AMMK leader TTV Dhinarakan said Perarivalan’s release was a welcome decision by the Supreme Court.

Dravidian political parties in Tamil Nadu want to capitalize on the euphoria created by Perarivalan’s exit among the local Tamil population. They know that if they don’t follow the feelings of the Tamil people, they will lose ground.

The major and minor Dravidian parties know that the Tamil nationalism that is embedded in the psyche of an ordinary Tamilian will turn against them if they do not conform to the feelings and realities on the ground. There was a perception among the Tamil people that Rajiv Gandhi’s decision to send the Indian Peacekeeping Force (IPKF) to Sri Lanka was a wrong decision and the Tamils ​​there were the recipients of the IPKF .

C. Rajeev, a political analyst and director of the Center for Policy and Development Studies, a Chennai-based think tank, told IANS that “the death sentence is not a solution to any problem, but the celebrations after the exit from Perarivalan and the stampede by the AIADMK and DMK leaders welcoming the release is a clear political decision aimed at the Tamil Diaspora and to emphasize to the Tamil Diaspora and the Tamil community in general that they really care about Tamil and Tamil people across the world.

However, the two major national political parties in Tamil Nadu, the Congress and the BJP, have spoken out strongly against the Chief Minister’s action and the Tamil political parties openly supporting Perarivalan’s release.

Tamil Nadu State Congress Speaker KS Alagiri immediately after the Supreme Court order releasing Perarivalan said, “Perarivalan is not innocent, the Supreme Court released him for certain legalities”.

BJP Tamil Nadu State Chairman K. Annamalai has said that the DMK is glorifying a murder convict who was freed by the Supreme Court using his extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution. He said 17 people were killed along with Rajiv Gandhi and among the dead were eight police officers. Annamalai said the BJP, while accepting the Supreme Court judgment, was firm in its position that the seven convicts are serious offenders.

While the BJP and Congress have spoken out strongly against creating hype about Perarivalan’s release, the Dravidian majors and breakaway Tamil political parties are creating hype about the release to stoke Tamil regionalism.

Dr. R. Padmanabhan, director of the Socio-Economic Development Foundation, a Madurai-based think tank, told IANS: “Tamil regionalism is taking over here and regional political parties are trying to stoke Tamil sentiments. to try to increase their support. The Tamil cause in Sri Lanka has always been a subject of sympathy in Tamil Nadu and the regional parties are trying to follow this while the national political parties cannot take such a stand in this matter.

With Perarivalan’s release, calls for the release of other convicts in the case are also being made in the state with the octogenarian mother of Nalini, another convict, demanding his release.

Comments are closed.