Karunanidhi and the Malay rebuke

Karunanidhi is the grand old man of Tamil politics and anything he says or does should not be taken lightly. But this time he has created a diplomatic problem for the Indian government (and he has been ably assisted by Nazri Aziz, a Minister in the Malaysian government).

Karunanidhi wrote a letter to PM Manmohan Singh complaining about the violent manner in which a peaceful demonstration by ethnic Indians (mostly Tamil Hindus) outside the British High Commission in Malaysia was dealt with by the police. This letter, an internal matter between the Chief Minister of an Indian state and the Prime Minister of India (albeit about matters pertaining to Malaysia), sparked off a strong response from Nazri Aziz. ”Do not meddle in our affairs. This is Malaysia, not Tamil Nadu … lay off,”, he has said.

Karunanidhi’s love for Tamils is nothing new (he, and most Tamil parties, did the same thing with the issue of Sri Lankan Tamils). His position, after all, is derived from the feelings of his constituency. But he and everybody else in India need to get one thing straight – these people are not Indians. They may be Tamils and they may be Hindus. But they are Malaysian citizens. If Malaysia wants to continue with its discriminatory policies, let it deal with the headache that accompanies them. India should not poke its nose into these matters. We have many problems in our own backyard and surely don’t need another one. Not surprisingly, the BJP has jumped into the fray demanding that Malaysia be expelled from the Commonwealth (like it matters). After all, Hindus are being targeted and Malaysia is an Islamic state.

Another issue that has been raised is the double standards being practised by the Indian government. It seems that the Indian state will complain if the issue affects Muslims (the strong message to the Danish government during the Muhammed cartoons fiasco), but it won’t lift a finger if the matter concerns Hindus. The only fallacy with this argument is that the prophet is revered by Muslims around the world, and we have 150 million of them. There might be a small truth in the matter, however, because the present government is known to walk on egg shells as far as Muslim issues are concerned.

The question that still remains is – how should the Indian government handle the situation? Should it stay silent while persons of Indian origin are treated shabbily by other countries? The answer is a difficult one and I pity the diplomats who have to deal with it. Human rights, democracy, peaceful protests etc. don’t make a good diplomatic argument as it can be thrown back at us over ten of our own problems. Whatever the government decides to do, it has to consider the fact that Karunanidhi is one of its major allies and the Malay response to his letter might not be taken too kindly to by his party.

As far as coverage of the issue by television channels goes, Times Now set the ball rolling sometime in the afternoon, and CNN-IBN picked it up in the evening – Kanimozhi being present on both channels defending her father.

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