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Sri Lanka-India relations will reach new heights - Dr. Subramanian Swamy

Senior BJP leader Dr. Subramanian Swamy in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Observer spoke on the landmark judgment against former Tamil Nadu (TN) Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, his overwhelming goodwill towards Sri Lanka and future Sri Lanka-India relations.


Dr. Subramanian Swamy

The 75-year-old former Harvard Economics Professor, known for his outspokenness and daring comments, said he felt proud of India and vindicated when heard the judgment in the Jayalalithaa corruption case.

Dr. Swamy said Sri Lanka-India relations will reach new heights under Prime Minister Narendra Modi since the BJP is committed to formulating foreign policy on national interest and not on sectional interests.

Excerpts of the interview.

Q: What was your immediate feeling when the Court delivered the verdict sentencing former TN Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to four years after ruling that she and all the accused were guilty of the charges?

A: I felt proud of India and vindicated on the optimism I have about India's future as a vibrant democratic society. The corrupt forces are strong and interlocked yet the judiciary, the police and prosecution witnesses did not wilt.

Q: Are you satisfied with the way the case has ended? and what are her chances of reversing the ruling, as she has already appealed against the verdict?

A: Yes. I am fully satisfied. She will not be out of prison soon, appeal or no appeal is my expectation.

Q: You had reportedly helped Jayalalithaa to come to politics. Could we know the history of it and have you any regrets for doing so?

A: In 1990, I became a senior-most Cabinet Minister in Chandrashekhar government. Following which I was briefed by the Intelligence on the widespread and deep penetration by LTTE in Tamil Nadu. I then visited TN and was horrified by the activities of the terrorist organisation.

The LTTE was running petrol bunks, nursing their injured in TN hospitals, running a hand grenade factory, a uniform stitching unit, and a massive communications centre. All this with the connivance of the ruling DMK and Karunanidhi as Chief Minister.

He even shared our Intelligence inputs with the LTTE. I recommended dismissing the State Government to the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs, which was accepted. After President's Rule was imposed, we had to hold fresh elections within six months. So I interacted with my dear friend and ally in the Government, Rajiv Gandhi, and told him that we should project Jayalalithaa as CM in an alliance with her splinter ADMK.


Former Tamil Nadu Chief
Minister Karunanidhi

He agreed but told me: "you deal with her. I find her impossible.”

I had met her twice before, she appeared to be a nice person and well informed. At the time of the dismissal of the DMK government, she was hiding in Hyderabad fearful of being murdered by Karunanidhi.

I traced her and asked her to return to Chennai promising to arrange Z+ security and even get the ADMK party office, which was sealed by the DMK, re-opened and the keys given to her.

Only later did I realise that she was a Jekyll and Hyde type split personality. The cinema world had brutalised her and “life had put her through a wringer” to quote her. I even arranged finances for her in the elections because she had called for help from the Prime Minister.

In the ensuing elections, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated and a huge sympathy wave swept her to office. Once she became CM, she also became a dictator and crazy for money.

I then found that she was complicit in a horrible nitric acid attack on the face of one of her secretary level senior officers, Ms. V.S. Chandralekha IAS for obstructing her proposal to sell-off the huge government-owned chemical and fertiliser company at one third of its market value to one of the most corrupt businessmen in Tamil Nadu.

When I questioned her as to how such an attack could take place and police take it so lightly, she launched through party cadres violent attacks on me.

None of it succeeded because of my central security cover provided by the successor PM Narasimha Rao in whose government I held a Cabinet post. But I began vocalisng her corrupt acts which created the climate for her downfall in the 1996 elections.

Q:It is common knowledge that you and Jayalalithaa were political rivals. Is it wrong to say the case was a means to settle scores between the two of you?

A: The Indian Supreme Court has said many times political rivalry is of no consequence if the facts averred are strong. The Sessions judge who convicted her has also recorded that view in his judgment because it was a point argued in Jayalalitha's defence.

Q: You have said in an interview that she tried to get you killed?

A: Twelve times. All obviously failed. The then Director General of Police Vaikunth has recorded one such attempt in his memoir 'Challenge and Response'. The Supreme Court also took judicial notice of this violence. A ban and an injunction against my arrest by the Tamil Nadu government was issued.

Q: Why did the Court take such a long time, as long as 18 years, to convict her?

A: She has a big loot and senior advocates could not resist the handsome fees.

Q: Some have predicted that the AIADMK leader will continue to rule the State despite her current predicament, and the new Chief Minister will be her proxy. How realistic are these arguments?

A: These are silly predictions. It is against human nature when selfishness guides Tamil politics.

In other words, the loyalty so far demonstrated by ADMK is fake. When the new CM and Ministers boarded the flight and took off to Bangalore, they celebrated boisterously till landing.

Upon disembarking they were again in tears. Such is the depth of cinema culture in Dravidian politics.

As soon as MGR died in 1988, they elected his arch enemy Karunanidhi to power with a huge majority in 1989. Does anyone of significance today remember Prabhakaran? Except in media handouts?

Q: Will relations between Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu, which were not pleasant during her tenure as the Chief Minister, be on cordial lines in her absence?

A: Her being there or not makes no difference. The BJP is committed to formulating foreign policy on national interest and not on sectional or local interests. No veto for any regional interests.

On our national interests and cultural affinities, India and Sri Lanka will keep improving.

Q: Do you think relations between Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu can be enhanced and pressing issues such as fishermen's woes be settled once and for all?

A: Yes, by negotiation. India needs to re-populate our sea in the Gulf of Mannar with fish and prawns and ban these mechanised boats. For two years we need some access to Sri Lanka waters on permit and payment basis.

Q: It seems that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a more different perspective of India-Sri Lanka relations, than the previous Indian leaders. Your comments?

A: It is obvious by the warmth in the meeting of Modi and Rajapaksa in New York. Human Rights issues were not even mentioned in the meeting.

Q: It is said you have played a special role in the BJP Government's efforts to enhance Sri Lanka- India relations. May I know the reason for such overwhelming goodwill?

A: Whatever I or any BJP member advocates is based on our inbred nationalist outlook and cultural affinity.

There is no reason for Sri Lankans to be grateful to us except that our two countries' core aspiration is to head in the same direction and we Indians feel comfortable in your cultural milieu. After all, we have a shared history and the same DNA.

Q: You have reportedly claimed that more Indian politicians, including Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, will be taken before Courts by you within this year. What would be the charges against them?

A: The charges against the two of them are disproportionate assets, criminal breach of trust to misappropriating property and antiques smuggling.

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