Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has produced a googly through seeking the Centre's opinion on releasing the convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and all the other parties are finding it very difficult to negotiate.
A day after DMK chief and former chief minister M Karunanidhi expressed support for the release of the seven convicts, his younger son and heir apparent MK Stalin took an opposite stand, saying the move made the AIADMK supremo was a "political game" ahead of the Assembly elections.
A day after DMK chief M Karunanidhi showed his support for the release of the 7 convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, his heir apparent DMK treasurer MK Stalin contradicted his father's statement, calling it a "political game." He said this hours after his father released a statement backing Jayalalithaa's demand saying the convicts had served "almost double life sentence" by "languishing" in jail for two-and-half-decades.
India will observe the 25th anniversary of the former prime minister's assassination in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu on May 21 this year.
Stalin has read the situation perhaps better than his father. Sources in the AIADMK hit back at the DMK over its charge, saying it is the latter who played politics by allying with the Congress, a party which is strongly against the convicts' release, ahead of the Assembly elections. They also said the issue was also into a petty family rift between the father and the son and that Stalin needed his nonagenarian father to contest the elections.
Did the AIADMK precisely aim for to make the recently sealed alliance between the Congress and DMK uncomfortable through this move? The DMK leadership could not ignore the arch-rival's "humane approach" and had to respond in its favour since it involves Tamil sentiments and the stakes are all the more high ahead of the Assembly elections.
But in doing so, it was certainly not acting in tune with the Congress which is against the release of the killer of one of its leaders. It was not surprising that Tamil Nadu Congress spokesperson Americai Narayanan tweeted to express his displeasure with the DMK's appeal to the Centre to release the convicts. "I don't agree with our partner," he said.
Jayalalithaa will be more than elated with this.
BJP in a dilemma:
The BJP also has its share of headache in this case. The saffron party banks heavily on nationalism, a strong political currency which it often uses to mobilise support at the national level. But in this case, the BJP, which a few days ago, whipped up nationalistic sentiments in the JNU controversy, will find itself at the receiving end if it supports Jayalalithaa's demand. But at the same time, the decision to not release the convicts could also hurt its prospects in Tamil Nadu.
On Thursday, Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan avoided the issue by saying the right decision will be taken at the right time, after he was asked over his stand. The BJP-led NDA agreed to the AIADMK government's demand on lifting ban on the controversial bull sport of Jallikattu just not to annoy the Tamil electorate. But the Rajiv Gandhi case is far more complex as it involves human beings and not bulls.
Congress also in a spot ahead of TN elections:
The Congress, though is a fringe player in the Tamil Nadu elections, but with an alliance in place this time, the grand-old party still has some stake. This makes it challenging for the party to maintain a consistency for it has always been against releasing the convicts. It has moved an adjournment in Rajya Sabha over the AIADMK government's move while its vice-president Rahul Gandhi put the onus on the government.
The move shows how Jayalalithaa's shrewd move has put all her opponents in a tricky situation. This move has every potential to harm the DMK-Congress alliance and put the BJP's efforts in getting closer to the DMDK in a jeopardy, ahead of the elections. It could help the ruling party divert attention from issues like accusations of playing politics with flood relief or corruption charges against the chief minister.