|HOME | NEWS | THE RAJAKUMAR ABDUCTION | REPORT|
August 7, 2000
TNLA may be brain behind Veerappan's demands
N Sathiya Moorthy in Madras
The Tamil National Liberation Army may be the brain, and even the power behind brigand Veerappan's demands to free kidnapped film star Dr Rajakumar.
"The 10 demands and the response of the two state governments to them are not really comprehensible to Veerappan. By mentioning government order numbers and dates of Supreme Court verdicts, the chief ministers of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu seem to have let out their own understanding of the possible situation," said a source.
"They seem to be addressing the same forces that may have drafted the demands and also conveying the message that they knew whom they are addressing -- or not addressing."
The TNLA hand is clearly visible in the demand to release five prisoners from Tamil Nadu prisons. All five are said to be members either of the TNLA or other fringe pan-Tamil militant groups.
There are doubts that not all 58 Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act detainees in Karnataka prisons, whose freedom is being sought, are Veerappan's associates or informants. A scrutiny could establish a pan-Tamil or other fundamentalist links.
The questions remain: is the TNLA is under Veerappan's influence or the other way round? Who is manning the group, Veerappan's chosen men or TNLA's militant cadres? And who is the decision-maker? And at what level and cost?
Leave alone Veerappan's personal demands, which are yet to be conveyed to the state governments -- or, so it is officially claimed -- the TNLA demands have socio-political implications, which may have an electoral impact, if exploited properly.
That could be even in the assembly elections next year, said the source.
"After all, the brains who worked on the demands would have also realised its possible impact and also its electoral gains."
While the TNLA is known to be in touch with Veerappan, at least two of its demands have highlighted issues with specific political focus. The demands on a higher tea price and a solution to the Mancholai estate labour dispute relate to Dalits, particularly the Puthiya Thamizhagam, which is influential in southern Tamil Nadu, and was seeking to spread its wings to western districts, where tea estates are located.
The militant past of Puthiya Thamizhagam founder Dr K Krishnaswamy, who is now a legislator, and the party's systematic spread, punctuated as it was by local disputes leading to violence against Dalits, revealed a mindset, not just a mind.
The Vanniar-strong PMK had identified itself with Veerappan even when the amnesty issue came up three years back -- and again now.
This time, Krishnaswamy was the first to suggest amnesty for Veerappan, followed by PMK founder Dr S Ramadoss. Party strategists say that with a strong Vanniar rooting, it could win the assembly elections in 2001, if not earlier -- and cite the DMK's assembly poll victory of 1989, when it won most of its 135-odd seats from the Vanniar belt, which in turn is a traditional 'non-nationalist' region, electorally.
While the Vanniars and the Dalits are known to be at loggerheads, and all recent caste clashes in the northern districts involved only the two, the Puthiya Thamizhagam represents another denomination of the community mostly outside the Vanniar belt.
Incidentally, the PMK and the Puthiya Thamizhagam are sympathetic to the pan-Tamil cause, and have been vocal on all fronts, including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The Dalit Panthers, on a collusion course against the Vanniars in their common stronghold in northern Tamil Nadu, has mostly been apolitical, beyond voicing Dalit interests and issues.
"All this is not to suggest that the PMK and Puthiya Thamizhagam, or their leaderships are hand-in-glove with the TNLA," said the source. "It's far from that, even though individual leaders in these two parties may have links with TNLA leaders at various levels and at various times. Obviously, someone seems to be working overtime, to raise a pan-Tamil political issue and highlight it in the national arena and are creating conducive conditions for the growth of such parties as the PMK and PT, without their consent, or even knowledge. And that may be the brain behind Veerappan, as well."
In this context, he refers to the better-known theory that Tamil Nadu voters are moving either from the centrist regional identity of the Dravidian majors. On the one hand, they are moving back to the nationalist mainstream, and on the other they are falling back on sub-regional forces, which are casteist in tendency, if not nature. While the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the acceptance of the 'Vajpayee chairsma' in successive Lok Sabha elections of 1998 and 1999, hinted at a 'nationalist revival', the electoral performance of such caste-based parties as the PMK, Puthiya Thamizhagam and the Dalit Panthers, showed the growing force of sub-regionalism.
If the Coimbatore serial blasts heralded the state's return to the nationalist mould, coming as it did after the Rajiv Gandhi assassination -- and also ensured a stable government at the Centre at a very crucial period, by tilting the undecided Tamil Nadu voter in its favour, the Rajakumar kidnapping incident may have produced the other effect. To that extent it's a political message that needed to be conveyed -- and heard, loud and clear -- Rajakumar may after all be safe. With Veerappan's personal demands alone remaining to be met -- if and when made.
ASTROLOGY | NEWSLINKS | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL BOOKINGS
AIR/RAIL | WEDDING | ROMANCE | WEATHER | WOMEN | E-CARDS | EDUCATION
HOMEPAGES | FREE MESSENGER | FREE EMAIL | CONTESTS | FEEDBACK