|He says he wants to be a different
type of politician, a honest one. Citing examples, he says during the good old days there
were honest and decent politicians and that he wants to be like one of them. "Ever
since I retired from the world of cricket, I have been wondering how I could give
something back to my country. And when President Chandrika Kumaratunga invited me, I
thought that was the best possible way to fulfil my aspiration. I truly want to play a
clean, decent and a honest game in politics. The day I find it difficult to stomach it, I
will resign. This, I have also told even President Kumaratunga," Arjuna told The
Sunday Leader, in an interview.
Following are excerpts;
Q: Why have you decided to get into politics?
A: After my retirement from the cricket world, I was wondering what I should do in
life. I represented my country for 18 years by way of playing cricket, of which for eight
years I represented the country as a captain. After my retirement, I had the innermost
urge to give my country something in return for the things I gained from my country. And
the best channel I could send my contribution through, I thought was politics. And I
grabbed the opportunity when President Kumaratunga invited me to join the Sri Lanka
Freedom Party (SLFP) and to contest the forthcoming election. Now when someone talks of
politics, it is also coupled with dirty games. But I want to be a clean politician. This
is my ambition.
Q: Did you at any time think your fame in the world of cricket could help find more
votes for the PA?
A: No. It has nothing to do with my popularity or fame. It is simply my intention
to serve the people of this country. And I thought that I could do this through politics.
Q: Why are you contesting in Colombo and why not in Gampaha?
A: I personally feel I could muster adequate and substantial support in Colombo
more than Gampaha. Another thing is, my father is also contesting in Gampaha and I thought
of not contesting there. On the other hand, my life for well over 30 years has been spent
in Colombo. I know Colombo more than Gampaha.
Q: Were you invited by the UNP to contest in Gampaha?
A: No. Of course there were invitations from almost all the political parties. But
finally I chose to contest under the PA ticket.
Q: It is learnt that you refused to contest in Gampaha under the UNP ticket because
one of your conditions that if you contest in Gampaha your father should step down, was
not fulfilled. Is there any truth in it?
A: No. The reason why I agreed to contest in Colombo is that I have been in Colombo
for quite a long time. I feel I could muster more support in this area than in Gampaha. In
fact my parents never wanted any of us to get involved in politics. We were more into
playing cricket and all my brothers have been in someway contributing to cricket. But my
brother Prasanna had to get involved in politics just to help my father. My father did not
even allow us to be present at his campaigns. But after my retirement I was just relaxing
in the country. I was so disgusted with the officials attached to the cricket board that I
never walked in to the board for almost eight months. Of course whenever help and other
assistance were needed, I gave my support. But on the whole I got sick of the whole
cricket system in the country. For instance, whenever there was a meeting or dinner and
when I walked into such places, most of the cricketers rallied round me to talk to me. But
some of the administrators from the board did not like it. This is how the administrators
treated me after having given so much to the country. In fact Mr. Malalasekara wanted me
to come and serve in the cricket committee. I could have gone but I never liked to be
associated with the board much.
Q: Are you also retired hurt like Roshan Mahanama?
A: I was one time hurt. But I got over it. I fought my way through. Had I continued
in cricket, I too would have been dumped like some others. But I retired at the correct
time. In fact my retirement sent shockwaves through the board which never anticipated my
retirement. It took nearly three days for me to decide on my retirement. I never consulted
many people but took a bold decision.
Q: Coming back to politics, what have you got to offer your electorate?
A: I am new to politics. Just fourteen days old. And I may put it this way. Instead
of telling myself what I could offer my supporters I tell myself that I want to be a clean
and honest politician. I think this is deeply rooted in me. I want to be a different
politician. By doing this, I think I can give a lot, not only to my supporters but to my
whole country. I told the president when I met her, that if I am not allowed to do what I
want to do, I would quit politics. I have learnt a lot from cricket. When I participated
at the selection of cricketers for the matches, I was able to agree or to disagree. In
fact, I think.
||Warm hearts, cool heads - Moragoda
By Wilson Gnanadass
Milinda Moragoda, a member of the think tank in the United National Party
(UNP) has different methods of facing the people at the forthcoming elections. His
election advertisements, his election speeches and his general conduct are all distinctly
different from others.
He says the UNP must try to convince not the heads but the hearts of the
people, especially of the non-UNPers and those who are suspicious of the party. This, he
says, is one way to muster more support for the party. He believes it is a real challenge
for the UNP, despite the fact that the party has now been strengthened by the defectors
and others who have come to support them overwhelmingly. "Just because we have a huge
support, we cannot live on others' misery. We have to work hard. We cannot be complacent.
I think our success or failure in this election will depend on our ability to convince
especially the hearts of those who are not hardcore UNPers," he told The Sunday
Leader in an interview.
Following are excerpts;
Q: What do you think are the chances of the UNP at the December 5, elections?
A: I think we must first of all appreciate the overall social and political climate
in this country. I think people are fed up of politics. I also sense there is apathy on
the part of the people with a feeling that both parties are the same after assuming power.
You see, one of the biggest problems with these two parties is that the people really
can't understand the difference between these two parties. But of course people think that
the UNP can manage. But if you take the overall situation people are confused.
Nowadays, even the faces are the same. The faces they find in the PA are in the UNP.
So, in that kind of a situation, I feel that the UNP has a challenge. The party has to win
the confidence of the people who are non-UNPers. We generally tend to appeal to the
hardcore UNPers. Of course we have to keep our cadres and our supporters with us. But if
we are to form a government, we can't just be the largest party in parliament. But to do
this we have to go to people who are suspicious of us and the government.
Therefore, the challenge that the UNP is faced with is to win the hearts and minds of
the floating voters. I think our success or failure in this election will depend on our
ability to convince those people.
Q: But you are left with just less than a month. Are you still trying to
A: It is not easy. It is a challenge. I think we can do it. In my view
the UNP under Ranil Wickremesinghe has a vision of trying to break from the past. This is
a break from the politics of opportunism, politics where the interests of the politicians
were placed above the interests of the people. There is a tendency for our politicians to
go behind the preference vote. This is where we place our interest above others.
Q: What has the UNP got to offer the people, different to what was offered by
A: The UNP has one thing to offer. And that is hope. Hope based on a certain degree
of pragmatism. There are no quick fixes and magic solutions to the problems of this
country. What we require is commitment and dedication and we want to work together for the
sake of the country. It is not that easy. For the past fifty years or so we have failed to
create a culture where there is equal opportunity for all Sri Lankans.
The peace process is also equally complicated. If you look at the Middle East or
Ireland peace processes, if you go one step forward, you may have to come three steps
backwards. So what we have under Ranil Wickremesinghe is the ability to give leadership to
that process. The result is not only in the hands of the politicians but the public as
Politicians in our country have prevailed since independence by capitalising on the
differences in our society. We have opportunistically used the caste and race differences.
Now this has to change. America and Singapore and some other countries all treated
multi-ethnicity as a strength. But here it is different.
Q: You have been carrying out a different type of a campaign, minus posters and so
on. How effective has that been so far?
A: Let me tell you this. I spent a year as a national list parliamentarian. And
when the election was called I did not have the passion to get back to parliament. I felt
that I have neither made a contribution to parliament nor to the country. For that matter,
nor did I think anybody in parliament made any positive contribution to the nation. All it
seemed to me was politics of opportunism. Politicians were more concerned about their own
So firstly I thought I should run for office. Secondly I thought I should present my
ideas to the people and see whether these ideas would resonate. If they did not resonate
then I thought I was the wrong man for the job. Therefore I thought of starting a
different type of campaigning.
To tell you the truth people are fed up of the kind of campaign that has been in
practice in the past. I always said, "attack the message and not the messenger."
It is the message that I was pushing. Then I told myself that if I am elected to
parliament on that basis, I can stand for those values. That is my objective. This is what
gave me the real passion to come into politics. This is the reason I sought to move this
way and the response so far has been very good.
Q: Is the United National Front (UNF) led by the UNP anticipating a two thirds
majority in this election?
A: The system does not favour big swings. I also think that our society is moving
away from politics of bloc votes. We keep talking of bloc votes and that has been in our
history. Today frankly I don't think a father or a mother can tell a child how to vote. So
therefore just because we have this shift, the bloc votes come. We have to go after the
hearts of the people. A UNP government under Ranil Wickremesinghe will change the society
and the economy. And we mean it. We can do it.
Q: Has the defection of a formidable group from the PA created any impact in the
UNP. Or else has it in fact affected the image of the party?
A: This has shown the fact that the PA itself is in disarray. That senior members
have lost confidence in the PA. I think this has led to the deterioration of the PA. But
again we can't live on others' misery. We have to show an alternative. Talking of the
defection, I think this has given morale to our cadres. It has given us a sense that we
can do it. For seven years our cadres suffered. And the defection gave us morale. But what
do we do with this morale. I think we cannot be complacent.
Q: The UNP has been linked with the LTTE by the government. Firstly are you aware,
being a close confidante of Ranil Wickremesinghe, of such a link and secondly has this
campaign led by the government against the UNP affected the party?
A: There is no connection between the UNP and the LTTE. The issue that one sees is
that as a strategy I think the PA has come up with this allegation before every election.
This is a political tactic and a part of political opportunism we try to engage in this
Before the presidential election this allegation was made and before the parliamentary
election also this allegation was made. So in between elections the government makes every
effort to initiate a dialogue with the LTTE, and just before the election the government
puts the blame on the UNP. The president in an interview even said she is willing to give
the north-east to the LTTE for ten years.
I think it is irresponsible politics. But what does it produce. Nothing. I think the
society and history will judge the PA on this. I also don't think that this will affect
the image of the party because the people are far more intelligent than what we think.
Q: What is the UNP's policy on the ethnic crisis?
A: Ranil Wickremesinghe and the UNP have always stood consistently for a negotiated
settlement. I think he is the only politician in the country to face an election on that
basis. And some say at a political cost. The other factor is that one has to be realistic
when one approaches negotiations.
Every government has had an opportunity to begin talks with the LTTE. So it is quite
possible that we too will get that opportunity. So if we get that opportunity, it is
important that we go with a warm heart but with a cool head. The warm heart must be an
open heart to negotiate if we have the opportunity, to see whether we could find a just
and equitable solution. The cool head applies this way.
In 1994 when we left office the defence budget was in the range of US$ 350 million
dollars a year. Today it is well over a billion dollars. Now it shows militarily we cannot
claim any successes. This is because of politicisation of the military. For instance the
NIB is used to spy on opposition members and the media and some others who are opposed to
the government. It is not used for the purpose it is created.
Similarly it is a war that should be fought through special forces and not through
conventional military. So the cool head is that we have to restructure the military. If we
are spending a million dollars, we have to find out how it is being used. So it is a two
track formula. The warm heart where we must sincerely go for a negotiated settlement. We
must be sincere in our attempts and not hypocritical.
If you look at the history of our ethnic conflicts in 1977, we had an opportunity
through the district development councils. If these were properly implemented we could
have solved the problems.
Then in 1987, again we had an opportunity. Here the provincial councils were not
implemented properly. I hope we will have another opportunity to solve the crisis. But if
we are not sincere, nothing is going to work out.
Q: The economy under the PA regime is in shambles. What plans has the UNP got to
revive it and how soon do you think it could be done?
A: In 1979 President J. R. Jayawardene invited Lee Kwan Yu to Sri Lanka and when he
was leaving President Jayawardene, he said that the Sri Lankan democracy was a periodic
auction on non-existence resources. And that is what is happening now.
We have to look at the reality. In 50 years we have ruined our economy. In the UNP
period it was little better because it has by instinct a better economic sense of
management. The fact is, an economy that had a per capita income close to South Korea and
Taiwan in the 50s and 60s, is today is the lowest in Asia. Of course the north- east
conflict has contributed, but the fact is that we do not know to live according to our
means. Therefore I think the UNP's strategy is to first give a new vision to the economy.
Ranil Wickremesinghe has said that Sri Lanka should be made the gateway into the Indian
sub continent. If you look at Singapore and Hong Kong, they grew almost gateways into
these regions into China. China and India will be the fastest growing economies in the
world probably in the new century. So that is our vision. Take Dubai which has become the
gateway into India because of our problems in the country. So we have to take that
Secondly, we have to restructure the economy to make it look even more competitive.
Because this year we will have 0 percent growth, while India is going at 5.6 per cent.
Pakistan with all its problems is growing well over 3 percent. In the South East region
we have hit the bottom. So 0 percent growth is literally a contraction in the economy. And
we must bring investor confidence. Even before talking about the foreign investors, we
must think of the local investors. So that is a management issue which we will begin soon.
You see they all are not glamorous as we may think.
The other thing which Mr.Wickremesinghe has brought in is something called the Youth
Services Co. Today young people are unemployed. As a result our basic social discipline is
collapsing. We will take them and train them to be suitable for employment.
Q: Already pre-election violence has raised its ugly head giving all the indications
that the election is going to be marred with violence. How is the UNP going to counter
A: I say win the hearts of the people and the rest will follow. On the other hand,
we as a party are encouraging the public servants to be impartial.
I think all these institutions have lost their pride and dignity because of politics.
So what we should do is to give incentive to the public servants and policemen to do their
duties properly. In return what we promise if we come into office, is that their dignity
will be restored.
Q: Will a UNP government move a no confidence motion against President Kumaratunga?
A: I think if the UNP has a clear majority, the party must go to the president and
tell her, "Look, we have a majority and this is our programme. Please work with
You see, we can't spend another six months trying to throw her out. Then people will
get sick of us as well. So this should be our first approach. But if she is unreasonable,
and if she appears to be uncompromising, then alternatives will have to be looked at. But
I think the first option is a good option.
||"Prabhakaran singled me out
- it was a mutual kind of thing"
By J. S. Tissainayagam
The Island of Blood by Anita Pratap, is the
author's account of reporting various hotspots in South Asia. Pratap's account of visiting
Jaffna when it was occupied by the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF),is a personalised and
dramatic narrative of the obstacles and trials
faced by a war correspondent in quest of
a story in the war-torn city under occupation.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: What have you tried to accomplish in your book and into what
genre will you classify it?
A: It is seen through the eyes of the reporter who is present in
the book. What I have done is to give a very personalised account of what it is like to be
in strange situations in war zones, meeting an array of characters who are all
extraordinary. This is a depiction of reality to a group of people who might never have
the opportunity to see this.
Q: Don't you think that the inclusion of passages that come
across as self-praise and where others have said complimentary things about you sound
egoistic and thereby take away from the book?
A: You know a book is very subjective and if you feel that, you
are entitled to your perspective. The same passages that you dislike would be the passages
that other people like. There could be certain passages which you find are self-flattering
or whatever. I would take that as you say, even without even trying to defend myself.
On the other hand, there are people who say 'my god, what all you
have gone through.' None of these conversations have been cooked up. There is no invention
either in the characters or in the descriptions -- there have been no embellishments, no
exaggerations. In my dialogue with Ranjan Wijeratne, he said, 'you are a great woman.'
Right through from the early eighties there has been this public description of me as
being tough and brave.
But even as I say that, on the other hand, there are aspects of me
which are not necessarily flattering, showing my vulnerability, which detract from the
image of being a great person. I take my work seriously, I do not take myself seriously.
So I am happy when people say you are a very brave woman. So it does not hurt me in the
least when you say you are flattering yourself , because aspects of it are definitely
true. Yes, it true that I have quoted Ranjan Wijeratne and Prabhakaran saying 'you are a
brave person.' These are persons who have seen me at close quarters, who have a personal
vision of me who have said that. By and large that is what a lot of people say.
Q: Your writing shows a marked orientation to equating blackness
A: Blackness with ugliness? No, I do not think so at all!
Q: Can I finish? Equating darkness / blackness with ugliness when
you describe your encounter with an Indian army officer, the mud, slush and insects on the
way to Jaffna, and the carnage in Colombo seems to have a touch of orientalism and written
for a western audience ...
A: That was not the darkness alone, it was the fact that my hair
was completely over-shampooed and was like a haystack and the fact that my skin was
charred and dry and my clothes and feet were dirty. I do not think it is true at all and
it is complete misrepresentation.
On the other hand there was a detailed description of what Colombo
was like. It was because I had an eye-witness vision of that. It is very easy for armchair
critics to sit in their air-conditioned rooms and say you are doing this or doing that,
but they have not seen what the horror of it is like because they have not faced it
one-to-one, right on the street. So these are labels put on by people who have the
convenience of sitting in their armchairs. If you had actually witnessed these things you
would put these kinds of labels. If there is any label to be put it is human versus
As to the thing about the insects, I am a typical ordinary person, I
do not like creepy-crawlies. I am an urban person. I have lived in cities. It is a very
urban experience. If you were living in a rural area you would not be too bothered with a
thing like that, but I am an urban, city-bed person and I am not used to creepy-crawlies
all over my hair and skin. So I was trying to convey the sense of disgust and complete
revulsion. It is not something that most reporters would do to get a story, so it is an
alien experience for most reporters.
Q: In the book you refer to the asexual behaviour of the LTTE
cadres, their sense of fearlessness and their commitment to Prabhakaran. Are trying to say
that they have been brainwashed and unable to function like normal people?
A: No, I think it is discipline. I have also talked later about
an indoctrination that Tiger cadres go through (and) how they are shown this video of
atrocities by the Sri Lankan soldiers on Tamils, to create a sense of hatred towards the
Sri Lankan army. But they would not look at a woman as a sex object; they are consistently
polite and calm. I think it is the strict discipline that has been instilled very deeply
into them. And when I asked Prabhakaran about this, he identified the core secret of the
success of the LTTE organisation.
Q: You portray yourself as a 'liberated' woman, combining a
high-flying career while bringing up your child as a single parent. But then you also show
Prabhakaran's wife as meek and submissive. Doesn't her meekness, or submissiveness provoke
any comment from you?
A: No, it doesn't. I think it is none of my business. I have no
right to impose my values on others. Just as I would not like others to insist I should be
meek and submissive because that is the way they lead their lives, I would not impose my
liberated values on to others. I am never judgmental as far as other people are concerned.
And that is one reason possibly why I am a good reporter.
It is my job to give you the reality as it is, not exaggerating or
embellishing and not being judgmental about it. This clear distinction of roles is what
has given me access to all the protagonists in a particular conflict. So I take pride in
the fact that I have equal access to Prabhakaran and Chandrika Kumaratunga, the Indian
prime minister and Nawaz Sharif. All of them know what they say to me is exactly as I will
convey it. You maintain that respect very carefully and that is how I have maintained my
credibility over a 20-year period.
Q: How were you first introduced to Prabhakaran?
A: We are talking about the early eighties, where he was one
among the five militant groups. So Prabhakaran was one among the many players. I was able
to identify early on he was the one who was to play the crucial role, because the LTTE was
a much superior organisation in terms of its commitment to its cause. It was a very
sophisticated, long-term, highly disciplined organisation. And I knew he was the guy to
watch out for.
I have explained in the book why Prabhakaran singled me out -- it
was a mutual kind of thing. Prabhakaran knows I have never presented him in a different
light than what he is. I have criticised him (and) I would be the first to say I have not
seen Pra-bhakaran capable of tolerating dissent among his own organisation and the Tamil
community. I have at various points described him as a megalomaniac or ruthless, but he
knows I have said that on the basis of some of his actions, but I am not blind to certain
good qualities in the man, which also I have highlighted equally.
Q: Just a while ago you said you were not judgmental. But you
call Prabhakaran a 'megalomaniac.'
A: No. The megalomaniac thing was there in two/ three of
articles in which I gave my opinion. I am very careful about my reporting. In my reporting
I would not use adjectives like this. The one I mentioned was after the IPKF went.
Prabhakaran had full control of Jaffna and you had big portraits of him in every corner
you could think of. Why would anyone want to do that unless he wanted to project himself
as a great leader? That is something that you would see in someone like Napoleon. It is
king-sized ego, power and dominance. Perhaps it is because of this big ego that he has
achieved all that he has. That is why Prabhakaran has done all this and Napoleon has a
unique place in history.
Q: You have mentioned that Prabhakaran is superstitious. Has he
ever told you that he is superstitious?
A: He has not told me this himself, but a very close confidante
of his told me. I am not going to mention his name obviously and you should respect that.
But I won't be surprised just to disprove me Prabhakaran stages a strike on the 26th.
M. G. Ramachandran, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu hated it
when the press said something about him and his whole intention was to disprove -- to
prove they were wrong. And I have sensed a lot of similarities between Prabhakaran and
Q: What you have been saying is that your reportage is
unembellished and factual. When you accompany Joseph Pararajasingham's son to safety
(through a checkpoint in Batticaloa), there is this long dialogue with an STF officer. Is
A: It is not a recorded thing at all. It is not as if the STF
guy had a tape recorder. But it lasted a long time. We were going through it again and
again and again. I could have written a whole book on how he went on. I mentioned how he
went on about blood-thirsty Prabhakaran. It is a faithful reproduction of what transpired.
Q: The book's high-point is your meeting Prabhakaran. But the man
you portray is one you met 10 years ago...
A: I won't say that (meeting Prabhakaran is the highpoint), that
is what you say. No, I met him four years ago. There are published interviews in the
mid-nineties. What I said was that I had not seen him after Erik Solheim met in the Wanni
in November 2000. Solheim says Prabhakaran has said he is willing to settle for something
less than Eelam. But up until the last time I met him, I had never sensed any dilution of
his commitment to the cause. But if Prabhakaran said that, it is a significant step.
Q: You have tried to portray him as someone who has 100 percent
commitment to Eelam, whereas there have been instances where he has said he is willing to
A: That is only now, in the last one year he has said that to
Solheim. That is why I believe that the April attack by the army and resumption of war was
a big setback. The establishment here should have really capitalised on that. But instead
what has happened is a breakdown again. And now Prabhakaran will turn and say 'I was
willing to step down, but what is the point? The Sinhalese government will never ever
really settle this problem, they will always go back on their word, basically because they
are not interested in giving Tamils their rights.'
I met somebody who said that during the ceasefire Prabhakaran had
got two shiploads of arms. That is before April. So this was the same time-buying ploy
that he has been using for the last decade. There were times in the past where I openly
said he was regrouping. In 1994, when Chandrika came to power there was a tremendous sense
of excitement that she was the Great New Hope and everyone felt she was going to deliver
peace. Then I go and meet Prabhakaran and he says before you know it all this euphoria
will come to an end and Chandrika will be caught up in her own internal problems and
nothing much is going to come out of it.
One of the reasons why I said Prabhakaran was a extraordinary person
is that he had such tremendous foresight. He was able to see things. He has not misled, he
has never spoken with a forked tongue. He has said exactly like what things have happened.
Much of the trouble is that people have not chosen to listen to what he has said. Up to
that point I do not think he plays these funny games and is untrustworthy. He is
misunderstood. Therefore, unless I meet him now I cannot say whether he has climbed down
Q: You have tried to show how the PA and UNP have succeeded in
mishandling the national question over and over again. Is it a question of the political
parties themselves, or is there a reluctance on the part of the ruling establishment to
bring about permanent peace?
A: Chandrika at one point definitely had this intention, as much
as Premadasa did. So there have been times when individual politicians have actually tried
to go beyond and sort out this problem. Up until the eighties you could say consistently
that it was the Sinhala side that went back on its promises, but in the nineties you had
several instances when it seemed to be that Prabhakaran went back on his promises.
There has to be an ability among leaders to have a larger vision and
outlook beyond the next election. The citizenry and civic society also have to assert
themselves and rise up and hold leaders accountable. We kow-tow to politicians because we
do not want to alienate them as they will be able to help us in some way and it is the
country that suffers as a result.
Q: What is India's current position towards the LTTE and Eelam --
especially with both the present and former governments failing to resolve the problem
either militarily or politically?
A: India tried to bring a solution and failed. It was like a
slap on India's face. By and large India does not want to get involved ever again in this
because India carries a lot of hurt, anger and wounded pride over this whole issue. India
is not likely to get involved in this situation ever again -- basically a hands-off
policy. If Sri Lanka needs any external help that is fine, provided as long as it is a
neutral, unthreatening and non-colonial power like Norway. No one is threatened by Norway
and they are neutral. India might be a little more wary if it was China that was brought
in to intervene, or Pakistan, or even America. India still sees South Asia as its region
and part of its neighbourhood and would like to be consulted. India would be upset if it
was being ignored by any of the mediators or even the Sri Lankans.
India has a particularly negative attitude to the LTTE because of
two reasons. One, because the IPKF venture failed so badly and in the Indian establishment
there is a deep-rooted feeling that the LTTE betrayed the Indians. And also Rajiv Gandhi's
death was a traumatic experience for most Indians. So the Tigers were seen as very
dangerous and lethal and do not arouse strong and positive reactions in India.
As far as Eelam is concerned, I think Prabhakaran was bang-on when
he said you have to fight India eventually because India would not allow the creation of a
separate Tamil state in Sri Lanka because that would have direct repercussion in Tamil
Nadu. One of the oldest secessionist movements in India began in 1952. So India would be
concerned and would frown upon a separate state because it would immediately give impetus
to secessionist tendencies in Tamil Nadu.
But one thing that has happened of very late that I have picked up
is that there is growing concern in India and in Tamil Nadu about some kind of a linkage
developing in Tamil Nadu between LTTE, the Naxalites and Weerappan. This combination has
aroused a certain degree of concern. Sri Lanka has this problem to battle with and let
them do it and if it spills on to our shores we have to take very firm action.