Vaiko owes his life to Rajiv Gandhi: Congress

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Chennai, Jan 28 (UNI) If Marumalarchi DMK General Secretary Vaiko is alive today, it is because of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Congress Legislator Peter Alphonse said in the Tamil Nadu Assembly today.

Intervening in the debate on the motion of thanks to the Governor for his address, he said that on coming to know that Mr Vaiko had made a clandestine visit to Vavuniya, Mr Gandhi had spent a full sleepless night to ensure the safe return of the MDMK leader.

''If the MDMK leader is alive today, it is because of the efforts taken by Mr Rajiv Gandhi,'' he said.

Mr Alphonse said that when the issue was raised in Parliament, Mr Gandhi had magnanimously stated that he was more worried about the safe return of Mr Vaiko than about the manner in which he had gone to Sri Lanka.

The issue came to the fore when Mr N Ramakrishnan (MDMK) took exception to Ms D Yasoda (Congress) making a subtle reference about clandestine visits, without mentioning Mr Vaiko by name.

The Congress leader, while reacting to an AIADMK member's plea that the Centre should take steps to rescue Tamils who were held in countries like Malaysia and Singapore for overstaying, said the Government could come to the rescue of such people, but there were people who had made clandestine visits.

Stating that Ms Yasoda's reference to clandestine visit was directed at Mr Vaiko's visit to Vavuniya in 1989, Mr Ramakrishnan recalled how the Congress leaders had hailed Mr Vaiko after he campaigned for the victory of DMK-led DPA in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.

Congress candidates had vied with each other to invite him for electioneering, but were now ridiculing him, he said.

Reacting to this, Mr Alphonse said it was only natural for partymen to invite alliance party leaders for electioneering in their constituencies.

Mr Vaiko, then called V Gopalasamy, a Rajya Sabha member, had gone to the island in a boat clandestinely to meet LTTE chief V Prabhakaran on February six, 1989, and returned on March four, 1989.

He had left a note to the then Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, seeking his pardon as he was leaving for the island without informing him and explaining the reasons for undertaking the visit.

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