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Karuna remark puts Cong in fix

Karuna remark puts Cong in fix

Author: Pioneer News Service
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: April 20, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/170830/Karuna-remark-puts-Cong-in-fix.html

Says Prabhakaran not terrorist, would be sad if he's killed

Shocked and embarrassed by key ally M Karunanidhi's remark that LTTE chief Prabhakaran was not a terrorist, the Congress sought to swiftly end the controversy by saying the DMK leader had expressed his "personal" opinion that did not match with the Congress stand.

The party on Sunday rejected the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister's comments saying the party viewed Prabhakaran as a terrorist and the LTTE an extremist outfit.

Party spokesperson Kapil Sibal termed the DMK chief's remarks as his "personal opinion" and said the party will ask for Prabhakaran's extradition if Sri Lanka captured him alive.

"That may be his personal opinion. But we do believe that LTTE is a terrorist organisation and all those involved in LTTE's activities are terrorists. This is our belief," Congress spokesperson Kapil Sibal said.

He said, "We would expect the Sri Lankan Government handing over him to us in the event of his getting captured."

Another Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the Congress-led UPA Government valued its long association with the DMK. "We have a valuable ally and a partner in Tamil Nadu, but that cannot mean that our unequivocal established policy (on LTTE) can change."

While the Congress may make an attempt to downplay the remark, it cannot lose sight of the timing of the comment. A month before the process of Government formation begins, its strongest ally in the south has given the party jitters by the statement. The other significant point is that Karunanidhi chose to make such a categorical assertion, despite knowing the Congress stand on the matter is diametrically opposite.

The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister had said he did not "see" Prabhakaran as a terrorist and that he would be "saddened" if the latter was killed in the ongoing offensive in Sri Lanka.

In an interview to television channel NDTV, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister claimed the LTTE's aims were "legitimate and genuine" and added that terrorism had crept into the outfit later. Giving a clean chit to Prabhakaran, he said some people of the banned outfit may be terrorists but "that is not Prabhakaran's fault".

The CM went to the extent of saying that his sole disagreement with the LTTE leader was Prabhakaran's preferance for dictatorship for a future Tamil Eelam. "That was the only difference of opinion I had with him," the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister said.

Meanwhile, hitting out at the Congress, the BJP said the Congress had withdrawn support to the United Front Government in 1997 after the Jain Commission indicted Karunanidhi in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

"We have already said that the LTTE being a terrorist organisation our concern should be only for theinnocent Tamil civilians who are trapped in the war zone in Sri Lanka's north," BJP leader Prakash Javdekar said. He added there was ``no logic'' to the Congress' terming the views expressed by Karunanidhi as "personal''.

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