Chennai: Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi on Monday went an a sudden indefinite fast demanding immediate ceasefire in Sri Lanka, where troops have closed in on the remaining strip of Tiger stronghold leaving many Tamil civilians trapped.
“Let me be one of his (Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse’s) victims”, the 84-year-old DMK patriarch said after commencing the fast sitting on a wheel chair, a day after Colombo rejected the LTTE’s ceasefire offer, calling it a “joke”.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to Karunanidhi over phone and enquired about his fast, according to union minister and Congress leader G K Vasan who came to the fast site.
Accusing the Sri Lankan army of killing the Tamils in the island nation in the ongoing offensive against the LTTE, Karunanidhi said “this (fast) is my sacrifice for the cause of Tamils”.
Karunanidhi, who underwent major surgery for back pain in February, went to the memorial of C N Annadurai, his political mentor, and paid floral tributes before going on fast.
After sitting on the wheelchair for sometime, a tired looking Karunanidhi rested on a bed placed at the fast site. Two doctors were attending on him.
Soon after Karunanidhi began his fast, his son M K Azhagiri also launched a fast along with hundreds of DMK workers in Madurai from where he is contesting the Lok Sabha elections.
“I was eagerly waiting for an announcement from the Sri Lankan government throughout last night. I did not even sleep last night. When nothing came, I decided to become of the victims of Rajapakse”, Karunanidhi told reporters.
As he launched the fast, the DMK chief said: “I do not want DMK men anywhere in the state to fast. It is my individual decision”.
“This is my sacrifice for the cause of Tamils”, Karunanidhi, who had last week demanded snapping of all diplomatic ties with Sri Lanka if did not heed India’s appeal for ceasefire, said.
Vasan said the “UPA is pressing for a ceasefire in Sri Lanka.. we are trying our best”.
Around 300 DMK workers and leaders including Union Shipping minister T R Baalu, Rajya Sabha MP and Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi and his grand nephew and former Union IT minister Dayanidhi Maran were with the DMK president.
The DMK patriarch’s abrupt decision comes days after AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa made a dramatic shift in her party’s position on the Lankan issue, insisting that only a Tamil Eelam would end the decades-long ethnic strife.
Karunanidhi and UPA had come under fire from opposition parties in Tamil Nadu, who had accused them of not doing enough to mitigate the sufferings of the Sri Lankan Tamils and bring about a ceasefire in the island nation.