Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had said at a conclave a fortnight ago that the government has no business to be in business. The statement is an apt one in today's neo-liberal world. But it seems Modi's close friend J Jayalalithaa, also a powerful chief minister of the country, does not really believe in the mantra.
Jayalalithaa has no business in ruining others' business
Or else, why has she dragged her feet into the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the name of serving the cause of the Tamils in Sri Lanka and barred players, umpires, officials or support staff from the neighbouring country to participate in the tournament matches to be staged in Chennai?
The AIADMK chief's display of narrow chauvinism and discrimination in sports on political grounds has been boosted by the Indian cricket authorities' bowing before her whims. Jayalalithaa cited a heated atmosphere the reason behind taking this step for she felt that allowing Sri Lankan players in Tamil Nadu would further offend the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu.
The Tamil Nadu assembly also passed a resolution on Wednesday against Sri Lanka and wanted India to stop treating Sri Lanka as a friendly country. She had also demanded to reclaim the Kachchateevu island which India had ceded to the neighbouring country in the past.
A few months ago, the CM had spoken on similar lines while banning Vishwaroopam, a film directed by superstar Kamal Haasan, saying it would have threatened communal harmony in the society. Both these instances show an assertive leader like Jayalalithaa fails to resist the temptation of allowing state interference in issues and take extreme action which is otherwise uncalled for.
Jayalalithaa's belligerence, which will harm India's interests, is more aimed at two domestic enemies than any foreign foe like President Rajapaksha of Sri Lanka. The Tamil Nadu chief minister has gone overboard to show the DMK that if the latter took one drastic step, she could take three bigger steps and did not care if vital interests, whether national or corporate, were harmed in the process.
The Congress-led UPA government was also given a strong message by the leader that she would not let it go if Tamil sentiments were hurt.
Jayalalithaa will create a big issue if NDA ever comes to power
But whatever Jayalalithaa is doing now, the consequences will be felt more in future, particularly if Narendra Modi comes to the power. If Jayalalithaa formally joins the NDA in the post-poll situation to keep the Congress out of power and backs Modi as the prime minister (which will be crucial for the BJP), the Sri Lanka issue of today will emerge as a new challenge. We had seen how constituent parties in the previous NDA government were contradictory to each other on the issue of Sri Lankan Tamils and it is likely to occur again for this is what ultimately expected from India's populist parties.
Jayalalithaa in such a situation will try to influence the foreign policy making by taking a belligerent approach towards Colombo, something which will be completely out of tune with the reality of international relations. It will be interesting to see how Modi succeeds to rein in such a belligerent leader while carrying out the task of day-to-day administration.
Boycotting cricket players is a silly thing to do
The future is, however, is yet not here. But Jayalalithaa's current overdoing things by interfering in a sporting event and its organisers meek surrender will certainly create more animosity between New Delhi and Colombo while doing little harm to the atrocious Rajapaksha regime.
The Sri Lankans have already condemned the IPL organisers (former cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga has already raised his voice on this and wanted his country's players to pull out) and this is expected to intensify. The tit-for-tat politics will achieve nothing at the end of the day. We will only end up creating another Kashmir-like situation in south.
If regional parties influence the nation's interests in a positive way, it is a welcome development. But if they just fuel hatred and hinder national interests to earn a few more votes, then it is an ominous sign.
Time to stop the one-upmanship
The human rights violation in Sri Lanka is for the Sinhalese and the Tamils in that country to settle and not the responsibility of populist Indian parties who do nothing but create more headaches for the country. What the DMK and AIADMK and other local outfits are doing today are indulging in a hollow one-upmanship but at the cost of sacrificing the nation's goodwill image. It was the same Jayalalithaa who had once said that civilian deaths were inevitable in a war.
The farce must end somewhere. We are slowly going to a point of no return.