The last time Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited India was in September 2012 to inaugurate an international Buddhist university and research centre in Madhya Pradesh. MDMK leader Vaiko was there to protest at the venue. The target was not just the Lankan president, but CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his party as well.
For a leader who has made so much political investment on the issue of welfare of Sri Lankan Tamils, Vaiko is unlikely to back off on his opposition to the invitation to Rajapaksa to attend Narendra Modi’s swearing-in. The only question, then, is this: Whether the first Tamil party to hitch its wagon to the Modi engine would also become the first one to de-link from it.
Even before he launched MDMK, Vaiko was one of the most vocal supporter of the Sri Lankan Tamils, especially the LTTE. He spoke for them inside the Rajya Sabha and sported their fatigue at training camps in Vanni.
To this day, Vaiko refuses to accept that rebel leader Velupillai Prabakaran, killed by the Sri Lankan Army in 2009, is dead.
Since then, Vaiko has targeted the Congress for betraying the Lankan Tamils. While he had several political compulsions for aligning with the BJP, one of the reasons he gave during his rallies was that the party would correct the wrongs done to Lankan Tamils under the UPA. In short, Lanka is to Vaiko what Ayodhya is to VHP — there is very little room to negotiate.
With none of the MDMK candidates winning the election and BJP gaining a simple majority, it remains to be seen if the lead partner will accommodate a demand from an ally that has no representation in the House.
Even if Vaiko withdraws from the alliance, the only number it will change is outside the House, within the NDA, which already has an excess of allies from Tamil Nadu without Parliamentary representation — five, including MDMK. After all, it was a constant criticism of the BJP that the ‘weak’ PM Manmohan Singh had let state parties dictate terms on external affairs.