AIADMK Protests ‘Derogatory’ Article Against Jaya
In a rare show of comraderie, political parties in Tamil Nadu rallied behind Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in condemning a derogatory article against her on a Sri Lankan official website, forcing Colombo to issue an unqualified apology and remove the post.
The article in the website of Ministry of Defence and Urban Development of Sri Lanka left all sections of society in Tamil Nadu fuming with AIADMK and various Tamil outfits staging protests across the state and venting their anger by burning effigies and photos of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse.
As tempers rose in the state and the issue rocked Parliament with AIADMK raking it up, the article was removed, with Sri Lanka tendering an ‘unqualified apology.’
“We extend an unqualified apology to the Hon Prime Minister of India and Hon Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu,” said a statement posted on the Lankan Defence Ministry website.
Jayalalithaa found the backing of some of her harshest critics, including arch rival DMK, which termed the incident as ‘cheap’ while BJP called for strong condemnation of the incident.
The article titled ‘How meaningful are Jayalalithaa’s love letters to Narendra Modi?,” mocking at her repeated communications to him on issues concerning the state fishermen and involving Sri Lanka, received all-round condemnation.
A staunch critic of the Rajapakse regime, Jayalalithaa fired a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, insisting that the article was an attempt to create fissures in India’s federal polity. She demanded an unconditional apology from Colombo for the insinuations against her.
Though the article, which also had a graphic image of Modi, had been removed, ‘the damage has been done,’ she said.
She urged Modi to immediately direct the External Affairs Ministry to summon the Sri Lankan High Commissioner and ‘clearly express India’s displeasure’ over the manner in which the article was hosted and “seek an unconditional apology from the Government of Sri Lanka.”
“The visual rendering on the homepage of the official website just above the link is highly objectionable as it depicted both the Prime Minister of India and Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu (herself) in a very trivialized, derogatory and disrespectful manner,” she said in her letter.
The article contained certain unwarranted and unfounded comments about her consistently taking up issues such as the arrest of Indian fishermen by the Lankan navy, including her strident stand against ceding of Katchatheevu, an islet, to the island republic, Jayalalithaa said.
“The article also tries to mischievously create fissures within India’s federal polity where none exist through statements like ‘obviously she is attempting to dent the popularity of the Indian Prime Minister’,” she said.
Unperturbed by the critical observations in the article, she vowed to strongly espouse the cause of the fishermen of her state since it was their livelihood issue.
In its apology, Sri Lanka said the article had been published without appropriate authorisation and that it had been removed.
“The article which had been published without appropriate authorisation and not reflecting any official position of the Government of Sri Lanka or Ministry of Defence and Urban Development has since been removed,” an official statement said.
The issue turned out to be a unifying factor in the state politics, with parties including NDA partners PMK and MDMK backing Jayalalithaa, saying whatever she had been doing was in her official capacity as the elected head of the state.
DMK slammed the Sri Lankan Government over the episode and demanded an apology with party spokesperson T K S Elangovan describing the article as ‘cheap.’
No matter what the differences were, a Chief Minister cannot be depicted in such a manner when she was speaking on behalf of the Tamils, he said and demanded an apology.
PMK founder S Ramadoss said the article degraded both the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and Modi, adding such commentary in an official government website amounted to ‘interfering’ in the internal affairs of the country.
He alleged the visit of a BJP delegation led by party leader Subramanian Swamy, perceived to be close to the Sri Lankan administration, to Colombo had emboldened the neighbouring country to publish such an article.
“The Sri Lankan President (Mahinda Rajapakse) and Defence Secretary should apologise for the article. If the Sri Lankan government declines to do so, India should not hesitate to sever its relations with that country,” he said.
Another BJP ally, MDMK founder Vaiko echoed similar views.
BJP state General Secretary Vanathy Srinivasan said India should summon the Sri Lankan envoy and “convey our feelings.”
“We should strongly condemn it as it was published in an official website of the Sri Lankan government,” she told PTI.
TNCC President B S Gnanadesikan took the matter up with the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission here and sought removal of the controversial article.
IUML state chief K M Khader Mohideen also criticised Sri Lanka for the derogatory article.
A report from Rameswaram said AIADMK workers burnt an effigy of Rajapaksha protesting the ‘derogatory’ article.
The volunteers also slapped the effigy with chappals before setting it on fire, police said.
In Madurai and nearby Melur, AIADMK activists burnt the effigy of Rajapaksha.
Similar protests were held in Tiruvarur and Tiruchirappali also.