The issue of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees is something that both the major Dravidian parties always eye to encash during elections, be it state or national.
Assembly Polls 2016 Coverage
But has this weapon started losing its edge for both parties now? Are the Tamil voters slowly feeling disillusioned with the recurring promises that both the AIADMK and DMK make on the issue over the years but are proving to be hollow?
AIADMK supremo and the current chief minister, Jayalalithaa, has promised dual citizenship for all Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu but it is seen more as a desperate attempt to score the maximum brownie points and beat the DMK in the race to emrge as true sympathisers for the Tamil cause.
Jayalalithaa's promise also sounds hollow because the Constitution of India doesn't recognise dual citizenship and to make way for her promises, the law of the land has to be amended---something which in itself will be a full-fledged political battle. Besides, if such an idea is even meted, similar demands will be raised from refugees who have come from other countries to take shelter in India. It will only have a snowfalling effect.
The AIADMK government's decision to give a monthlt grant of Rs 1,000 to every Tamil refugee in the state has also been called to be insufficient and chaotic. For those refugee families that depend on the dole, it's a big problem if the money doesn't come on time. Many are even thinking of going back to Sri Lanka where homes are being rebuilt after the war or even go to countries like Canada to join other members of their family.
The refugees are in the middle of building network across the globe and money gets being circulated among them.
But in Tamil Nadu's politics, the issue might have a limited life now. With the horrific memories of the decades-long war becoming more a matter of distant past, the prospects of generating symathy votes are getting lesser and the ordinary Tamil voters no longer feel to care much about the Tamil refugee problem.