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November 14, 1997


The Rediff Interview/Aladi Aruna

'No action will follow the Jain Commission report'

Aladi Aruna shot into national prominence at the height of the Bofors row, with his dissent note accompanying the Joint Parliamentary Committee report that cleared the Rajiv Gandhi regime of any wrongdoing in the gun deal.

Aruna is one of the two ministers with an All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham past in M Karunanidhi's Dravida Munnetra Kazagham government in Tamil Nadu -- the other being Revenue Minister 'Nanjil' K Manoharan.

No wonder the DMK supremo has roped him in to deflect some of the allegations levelled against his previous regime of 1989-91. The DMK has reportedly been indicted by the Jain Commission report in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

In an exclusive interview with N Sathiya Moorthy, Aruna casts fresh light on the links Tamil Nadu politicians had with the LTTE:

What is your comment on the leaked report of the Jain Commission?

We do not know who was behind the leak. But I do not suspect the media's credibility on the accuracy and truthfulness of the leaked portions. I feel the Congress is trying to make political capital without actually bothering to find the real culprits behind the assassination.

What makes you think so?

Remember, the Congress was the power behind the Chandra Shekhar government which panicked at Rajiv Gandhi's brutal and inhuman killing. Both the Chandra Shekhar government and the P V Narasimha Rao regime went on appointing probe team after probe team, when none of the kind had been appointed to unravel the conspiracy, if any, behind Mahatma Gandhi's assassination. Or, even a sitting prime minister like Indira Gandhi. There, too, conspiracy theories had been floated... Anyway, in comparison, Rajiv Gandhi was only a former prime minister.

Do you mean to say that the Jain Commission was politically motivated?

Yes. Where was the need for appointing two commissions of inquiry, one under Justice Verma and another under Justice Jain, when a professionally trained organisation -- the Special Investigation Team --was doing a through investigation?

The SIT team seems to have gone into all aspects of the assassination, and no DMK leader or cadre was among the 41 accused before the Special TADA Court at Poonamalee.

Why don't you wait for the Special Court's judgment on January 28, rather than rush to the media with leaked portions of a voluminous report?

What action do you foresee will follow the Jain report?

Nothing. What action did anyone take on the Verma report, or any other report of any other commission of inquiry? It's all political.

But Karunanidhi's name was linked to some Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam leader in the Padmanabha killing, and that seems to have formed the basis before the Jain Commission.

See it for yourself. The day the media leaked the Jain report there was nothing new in it anyway. A lot of newspapers and magazines had come up with the now-leaked portions in instalments even earlier. And then you had a TADA court, constituted by the erstwhile AIADMK government of Jayalalitha, releasing 15 of the 17 accused in the Padmanabha murder case.

That included DMK leaders like Subbulakshmi Jagadheesan and her husband, MDMK founder Gopalswamy's brother, arrested when the former was still in the DMK. He was a senior bureaucrat in the DMK regime of 1989-91. There was no evidence. And most of the evidence was recorded when the AIADMK was in power.

But Jayalalitha now wants the Karunanidhi government to either quit or be dismissed, on the basis of the Jain report...

As someone who was with the AIADMK at that time, I know even MGR had supported the LTTE. If anything, he did everything to ensure that the LTTE did not move closer to the DMK, in any way. His government offered the LTTE Rs 40 million, only to ensure that Prabhakaran did not take the Rs 50,000 each offered by the DMK to four Tamil militant groups in Sri Lanka on the occasion of Karunanidhi's birthday.

Why, MGR did not change his approach even after the Bangalore South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation summit, following which he suggested that Prabhakaran become the chief minister of a united Tamil North-East Province in Sri Lanka, a suggestion made on behalf of then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. The LTTE declined. Why then blame the DMK alone for not sticking to the Centre's stand on the Indian Peace-Keeping Force and the like? We only reflected the general sentiments of the time...


It's now common knowledge that Indira Gandhi was the one who started it all, by training and arming the LTTE for whatever reasons. Successive governments, both at the Centre and in the state, followed up on it. Only the degree of support and sympathy changed. Why, even Jayalalitha followed MGR's policy. Even before she came to power, she was advocating a pro-LTTE policy, and there are enough published interviews of hers from the time.

She even criticised the Rajiv Gandhi government vehemently on the LTTE question, on the eve of the post-MGR assembly election that the DMK, the Congress and two factions of the AIADMK fought independently.

But there was a change of attitude in the AIADMK and the Congress after the signing of the Indo-Sri Lanka accord and the IPKF operations...

That change was as much political and electoral as anything. The DMK lost two assembly by-elections after coming to power in January 1989, and Rajiv Gandhi, who was losing his grip over the north Indian voters after the Bofors row blew up, thought that a unified AIADMK was a better electoral bet in Tamil Nadu with its 39 Lok Sabha seats in the November polls.

What's the DMK's attitude towards the LTTE?

We have always expressed support and sympathy to the Tamil cause, in whichever part of the world they are. That applies to the Sri Lankan Tamil cause, as well. As far as the LTTE is concerned, we did not approve of the Padmanabha killing, or the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, and have always been against political violence in whatever form.

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