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Invitation to Rajapaksa leaves TN parties fuming

12:30 PM Jun 01, 2019 | Free Press Journal Correspondant

The move could scuttle Modi’s plans to preserve his current alliance formation in the State till the 2016 assembly elections

Chennai : Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi’s invitation to SAARC leaders including Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to attend his swearing-in ceremony on May 26, has created political bitterness among not just the BJP’s southern allies but also other parties in Tamil Nadu.

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In fact, if Rajapaksa, as media reports suggest, attends the ceremony just to score a political point over Tamil Nadu parties, it could pour cold water over Modi’s plans to preserve his current alliance formation in the State till the 2016 Assembly elections.

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According to sources, though the BJP’s allies MDMK and DMDK had drawn a blank in the Parliamentary election, Modi was keen on getting a Rajya Sabha berth for MDMK leader Vaiko and DMDK founder Vijayakant’s brother-in-law L K Sudhish from some other BJP-ruled State.

 “Modi’s plan is to retain the existing alliance till 2016 as the NDA had cumulatively polled around 18% of the popular vote share in the State,” a BJP leader said.

However, inviting Rajapaksa has come as a jolt particularly for Vaiko, who has been espousing the cause of the Sri Lankan Tamils and had promised the electorate that “the BJP would not betray the ethnic Tamils as the Congress had done.”

Now, a rattled Vaiko has made an emotional appeal saying, “With folded hands and anguish, I request you, BJP president Rajnath Singh and NDA leaders not to permit the Sri Lankan President to take part in the event. His participation will hurt and cause pain to the Tamils.”

The PMK, the BJP’s other ally, which won a lone seat, is yet to make its stand known on the issue.

On Thursday, DMK spokesperson TKS Elangovan issued a statement arguing that Modi could have “avoided” inviting Rajapaksa and appealed to him to understand the feelings of the people of Tamil Nadu.

“Rajapaksa is part of SAARC union, so they might have sent the invitation. But the Prime Minister-designate should also understand the feelings of people of Tamil Nadu,” he said adding that the people here were angry over Modi’s invitation to the Sri Lanka President.

However, BJP State president Pon Radhakrishnan ruled out any rethink. Defending the decision, he said: “(Tamil) Eelam is not in our hands but in

Rajapaksa’s hands. There is nothing wrong in inviting him.”

Meanwhile, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, who is known for his strong anti-Eelam and anti-LTTE stand, controversially tweeted: “I am in favour of President’s rule for four months followed by elections to assembly if JJ government (Jayalalithaa) doesn’t accept NaMo swearing-in invitation.”

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