It happens only in India. An opportunist political party, in a desperate attempt to prove itself as the true champions of a nation, has rocked a national government a year before the next general elections and the entire polity has been distabilised. We are going nowhere with such shocking display of betraying our own interest by bowing before the short-sighted politics of a regional party. Can this be imagined in any country?
UPA trying to put up a brave face
The Congress-led UPA government is trying to put up a brave face in front of the media and public that it has been little affected by the DMK's act and it would carry on with its regular task of governance, which including pushing key reforms.
But the reality is: the DMK's blackmailing politics has actually ruined the chances of the UPA of getting a free run and it could be toyed with as easily as by other allies who are serving as its oxygen now. It will be a difficult challenge to Manmohan Singh's survival and anxious days for the country in general.
The current chaos says how opportunism has come to dominate our electoral politics. Why was the DMK keeping quiet all these years and suddenly turned active just when the elections are around the corner? The fact is the more the central authority is weakening, the more the regional ambitions are getting assertive in a negative manner. Manmohan Singh's weak handling of the regional allies has encouraged them to take the bigger ally for a ride all the more. How pathetic!
Weakening Centre and strong regionalism
At the time of independence, our founding fathers had envisioned a strong centre in a federal polity to ensure that the country's integrity isn't threatened. But now it seems that very idea is about to get undone. If other outfits begin to imitate the DMK's dangerous politics tomorrow at other border areas of the country, it will be a herculean challenge for a dented central government to keep things under check. The idea of country-specific resolution is equally dangerous (thankfully and will give enough opportunity to Pakistan and China and even smaller nations to gang-up against us.
India today faces a serious challenge created by the Congress itself in the pastand it is the lack of a coherent foreign policy. The Nehruvian idea of a non-alignment and middle-path diplomacy have actually made us weak in international affairs. It has only paralysed our versatility to push a national interest strongly. Had India approached the Sri Lankan affairs in a more consistent manner throughout instead of oscillating between contradictory stands, then we could assert our voice in a strong manner.
It is not clear what is India's stand on the Tamil-Sinhala debate in the island-nation and the vagueness hasn't disappeared even after we lost a young prime minister because of the chaotic policy towards Sri Lanka. Actually, we started losing our interest in the southern neighbour after Rajiv Gandhi's assassination.
Even in 2002 when the Congress was not in power, we did not prefer to participate in the peace process in Sri Lanka which was initiated by western countries. The vacuum thus left was filled up by outfits claiming themselves to be true champions of the Tamils.
What is our bigger concern?
What is a bigger concern for the common Indian today? To think only about Sri Lankan atrocities or whether his own country improves its economic performance so that he and his family can live a better tomorrow? We have mixed up the priorities because we have no consistent foreign policy principles in place.
If Sri Lanka is violating human rights in its own country, the external powers can only address the issue internationally, through diplomatic channels or multilateral platforms. No unilateral action can serve any purpose.
Would India have allowed a foreign power to dictate it in the wake of the Gujarat riots in 2002, seeking a probe into the killings of Muslims? No. This idea basically contradicts the idea of sovereignty. Sri Lanka is afterall a sovereign nation with an elected government.
Bangladesh issue was different
Some people have been raising the issue of Bangladesh of 1971 in connection to the current Sri Lankan crisis. The two situations are not same.
In 1971, India decided to invade in East Pakistan (later Bangladesh) because the East-West tussle of Pakistan was impacting Indian borders by means of massive refugee influx and finally when Pakistan made a preemptive strike.
It was also easier for Indira Gandhi to declare the war for she had an absolute majority and found it a strategic interest for rich political harvests in home by taking a humanitarian position. Today, the situation is completely different and unlike India-Pakistan eternal enmity, New Delhi has always been a close ally of Sri Lanka in south Asian affairs and can not suddenly target it.
The Bangladesh situation had reached a tipping point as a formidable democratic force led by Mujibar Rehman made it easier for India to corner the arch-rivals. In the case of Sri Lanka, the Tamil political parties have politicised the issue so much so that it has instead become easier for Colombo to heighten its suspicion towards the Tamil political players.
More tough we become, more tougher Sri Lanka will be
The result: The Sri Lankan government will move little but we will end up betraying our own interest because of a regional outfit's drama. There can be no doubt that more we toughen our stand, the more Colombo tougher Colombo will become. In that case, international resolutions will count little.
It indeed we want to stand by the side of the victimised Tamils in Sri Lanka, we should do it through proper means and not endanger our own governance and national interest.
The tragedy is: We neither have a statesman nor a robust policy to guide ourselves in foreign affairs today.