MADRAS, India, Tuesday, (Reuter) - The opposition leader in India's Tamil Nadu state, tipped to win assembly polls, said today his party had cut its links with Tamil separatist guerrillas in Sri Lanka and would welcome foreign investment.
M. Karunanidhi told Reuters in Madras, the state capital, that his ethnic Tamil Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party sought autonomy for Tamil Nadu and all other states within a federal India.
The DMK governed Tamil Nadu from 1967 to 1976 and again from 1989 to 1991. Karunanidhi was chief minister for all those years except from 1967 to 1969.
The DMK has allied with rebels from Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao's Congress party to contest elections to both the federal parliament and the state assembly.
Wearing his trademark dark glasses and a spotless dhoti cloth wrapped around the waist, Karunanidhi said the DMK had in the past backed a range of Tamil rebel groups including the LTTE and the Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF).
"They started these movements because the Tamils were in trouble", he said, speaking through an interpreter. "Being ethnic Tamils, we also supported them and expressed our sympathy to the cause of the Tamils.''
Karunanidhi said former AIADMK chief minister M.G. Ramachandran, known as MGR, helped the LTTE. "He (MGR) also gave a government cheque for 40 million rupees ($1.2 million) to the LTTE,'' Karunanidhi said, claiming the money was paid in 1983.
Karunanidhi said when he came to power in 1989, the DMK government did not help the LTTE financially. However, when he once tried to offer the LTTE 300,000 rupees ($9,000), the militants turned down the money, he said.
Karunanidhi said the DMK stopped giving the LTTE moral support in 1990 when 14 members of the EPRLF, including their leader K. Padmanabha, were gunned down in central Madras. Police accused the LTTE of the murders.
"After the murder of Padmanabha and others belonging to the EPRLF in Tamil Nadu, we started withdrawing our support for them (LTTE) because those murders happened in Tamil Nadu,'' he said.