Modi Trying To Correct Past Mistakes


India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi blamed the main opposition party for ceding an island to Sri Lanka five decades ago when it was in power, dredging up a sensitive issue may be with an eye on capturing votes in a southern state where his BJP was unable to capture hold.

He blamed Congress and its regional ally Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, known as DMK, have not safeguarded Tamil Nadu state and their “callousness” on Katchatheevu island has harmed the interests of fishermen.

The island is located in the Palk Strait, a narrow waterway between Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu, where there are frequent disputes over fishing rights between the South Asian neighbors. Modi is seeking a record third term as prime minister and may use the issue to make inroads into a state that has resisted his party’s Hindu nationalist push.

In the 2019 elections, the BJP failed to get any of the 39 parliament seats from Tamil Nadu, which the DMK currently governs. Southern States have done much better in per capita income than other states.

Modi’s comments come after BJP official obtained government documents leading to the decades-old agreement between Sri Lanka and India under the Right to Information Act. The party says the documents show how the Congress-led government under India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and later on his daughter Indira Gandhi had easily given into Sri Lanka’s demands. BJP claimed that the public has the right to know the truth.

Katchatheevu is an uninhabited island in Sri Lanka. The island was controlled by the British Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) since 1921. Though the Indian government never controlled it, the island remained disputed until 1974 between India and Sri Lanka when India recognized Sri Lanka’s sovereignty over the island.

Earlier, it was owned by the Ramnad Kingdom of Ramanathapuram Rameshwaram which later came under the Madras Presidency during British rule of Indian subcontinent.  By 1920, Sri Lanka reinstated its claims to Katchatheevu and the island went within the Sri Lankan territory in 1921.

The island is located between Neduntheevu, Sri Lanka and Rameswaram, India and has been traditionally used by both Sri Lankan Tamil  and Tamil Nadu  fishermen. In 1974, then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi accepted Katchatheevu as Sri Lankan area under the “Indo-Sri Lankan Maritime agreement” aimed at resolving the maritime boundaries in the Palk Strait Another agreement signed in 1976 restricted both the countries’ fishermen from fishing in the other’s exclusive economic zones.

Modi on Sunday led a BJP charge against the Congress for “callously” giving away Katchatheevu island to Sri Lanka, slamming it as yet another “anti-national” act of the party for which the country is still paying the price.

With the issue having a resonance in Tamil Nadu whose fishermen often bear the brunt of Lankan action against their alleged intrusion into its waters.

Kharge accused the PM of displaying his desperation by raising the “sensitive issue” ahead of Lok Sabha elections. He also criticized the PM for giving what he called a “clean chit” to China following the Galwan Valley tragedy where 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives. If Modi truly and sincerely trying to correct past mistakes done by successive Prime Ministers, then he is a hero?

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