Editorial: Island Row With Eye On TN Votes

Editorial: Island Row With Eye On TN Votes

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Monday, April 01, 2024, 06:24 PM IST
article-image
Position of Katchatheevu Island | Google Maps

As Tamil Nadu gears up for the Lok Sabha election to be held in the first phase on April 19, the tiny island of Katchatheevu between India and Sri Lanka has become a key talking point. The BJP, which has been desperately seeking to make an electoral dent in the southern state, has raked up Katchatheevu to embarrass the DMK government. The disputed island had been given to Sri Lanka by the then Congress government headed by Indira Gandhi in 1974. Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai had through an RTI application sought details on the decision to hand over the island. This appeared in the local media and Prime Minister Narendra Modi was quick to latch on to it accusing the Congress government of callously giving away the island. Saying the party could not be trusted, the PM alleged that the Congress had weakened India’s unity and integrity over the last 75 years.

Katchatheevu, a disputed territory between India and Sri Lanka since British times, was attached to the Madras Presidency by the imperial rulers. However, after Independence there was a dispute over fishing rights around the island. In a bid to strengthen ties with Sri Lanka, Indira Gandhi ceded the island under the Indo-Sri Lanka Maritime agreement. To this day Indian fishermen who go to the area are mostly from Tamil Nadu. The then DMK government in the state had protested the agreement and subsequent governments have also continued to raise the issue. Last year, too, Chief Minister M K Stalin had flagged the issue with PM Modi ahead of Lankan PM Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit. Many TN fishermen are regularly arrested by the Sri Lankan authorities around the island and Stalin had bemoaned the threat to their livelihoods. The BJP is hoping to make Katchatheevu a key issue ahead of polling day by embarrassing the DMK which is an ally of the Congress in the state. The Congress has accused the BJP of having no achievements to show, questioned the timing of the controversy, and wondered why the PM had not taken up the issue over the last ten years when he was in power. It remains to be seen if Katchatheevu will have any electoral traction.

RECENT STORIES

Analysis: We Need Consensus On Growth And Job Creation

Analysis: We Need Consensus On Growth And Job Creation

Editorial: Keep Faith In Voting Machines

Editorial: Keep Faith In Voting Machines

Analysis: One-Man Show Is Not Healthy For Our Democracy

Analysis: One-Man Show Is Not Healthy For Our Democracy

Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Voter Turnout Decline in Western Uttar Pradesh Raises...

Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Voter Turnout Decline in Western Uttar Pradesh Raises...

Analysis: The Climate Finance Conundrum

Analysis: The Climate Finance Conundrum