The “Naam 200” event held last Friday to mark the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Indian-origin Tamils in Sri Lanka caused quite some controversies both at home and in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
Back home, no politicians or parliamentarians representing the upcountry other than the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) took part, saying no invitations were extended. Neither were the Colombo-based party leaders of the plantation Tamil community invited.
The entire event was billed to the Sri Lankan taxpayer, as it was Water Minister Jeevan Thondaman’s ministry that picked up the tab, not his CWC.
On Monday, Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Thangam Thennarasu told reporters that he was scheduled to attend the event representing the Tamil Nadu government but he could not secure the ‘political clearance’ from the Central government in New Delhi till hours before the event.
He told reporters about the circumstances that made him unable to attend the event, including waiting for clearance until 8.30 pm on Thursday in his office despite having made all travel arrangements to attend the event. By the time approval was granted on Friday—only a few hours ahead of the event—he had cancelled his plans.
To mark the TN government’s presence at the event, officials attached to Chief Minister M.K. Stalin organised a video message at the last minute. It was scheduled to be broadcast at the event. However, it was not broadcast at the event for unknown reasons but later circulated among media circles.
When the reporters asked the TN Minister whether the Centre deliberately avoided the presence of the TN government, which is at loggerheads with the BJP administration in New Delhi, the Minister responded by saying he would “leave it to the conclusion of the media”
Sunday Times. SL