Tamil Nadu is still reeling over the death of its former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram. Many have cast doubts over her death. There have been various conspiracy theories that have been circulating around since her death on December 4.
In this backdrop, it would be interesting to note how the relationship between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka would be after the demise of Jayalalithaa.
Ever since Jayalalithaa took over as the Chief Minister in 2011, Sri Lanka’s relationship with the State had been wobbly. Her stance on the Kachchatheevu issue, and her frequent calls for the intervention of the Central Government on the fishermen issue had created negative vibes between the Sri Lankans and Jayalalithaa.
Even though the tension had been watered down after the new government took over in 2015, Tamil Nadu continued to keep a distance with Sri Lanka.
When Tamil Nadu turns a new chapter under a new Chief Minister, it is also a new opportunity for Sri Lanka to have a fresh approach towards some of the existing problems.
For years, fishermen of both countries have been clashing in mid- seas. Each party has accused the other of encroaching into its seas and thereby depriving them of their livelihood.
Even recently, there were reports of the Sri Lankan Navy taking into custody several Tamil Nadu fishermen for encroaching into the Sri Lankan waters and engaging in illegal fishing.
Even though Sri Lanka and India had been discussing the matter in the recent times, both parties has failed to reach a conclusive settlement for the issue.
This is not a situation where two nations are at war. Both countries had been on good terms for over centuries and have shared cultural and economic ties.
Even recently, Tamil Nadu had expressed its solidarity with the people of the North during the final phase of the war.
But the story is different when both meet at mid-sea.
It is important that this issue is addressed in a manner where both parties are not affected. These are fishermen who struggle for their livelihood and risk their lives at sea. Therefore, both governments should look at the problem from the people’s point of view and not make it political.
Repercussions of war
The Tamil Nadu State had been actively involved in Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict from the initial stages. Tamil Nadu politicians had supported the LTTE and backed the group for years until the killing of its former Premier, Rajiv Gandhi.
The State had been a spectator after 1991 and did not interfere with the conflict until the war reached its final stages in 2007.
The State had placed restrictions on its people with regard to traveling to the country. Many of the artistes who had arrived in the country to perform on stage shows were compelled to catch the next flight back to Chennai due to protests in Tamil Nadu over their visit.
Today the situation has changed slightly. However, Sri Lanka is yet to bridge the gap with the State if the relationship is to be back on track.
TNA plans visit
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in the meantime is likely to visit the State to meet with its politicians including the new Chief Minister,
Even though no final decision had been reached, sources in the alliance stated that they would look at paying a visit in the near future. This would be the first visit to Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa’s death.
Unlike the politicians of the South, the Tamil politicians of the North had been maintaining a fairly good rapport with their counterparts in Tamil Nadu.
It would be interesting to note whether the relationship would continue as it was or it would see a few changes.
But it is highly unlikely that Tam
il Nadu would have a strong anti-Sri Lankan stance due to the leadership turmoil within the All India Anna Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the frequent suspicions expressed over Jayalalithaa’s death.
Meanwhile, the DMK is trying to capitalize on the situation to win some brownie points from the people. Added to this, the recent demonetization issue has also burdened the majority of the people.
With a lot of issues on its plate, it is highly unlikely that Tamil Nadu would be focusing on Sri Lanka.
However, the situation in the State should not overshadow the problems at hand, including the fishermen’s plight.