Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Monday did a dramatic U-turn saying the Tamil Tigers were indeed a terrorist group, inviting the charge of being "the number one traitor to the Tamil race" from friend-turned-foe Vaiko.
A day after he reportedly declared that Velupillai Prabhakaran, founder leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), was not a terrorist, Karunanidhi claimed that he had been misquoted in the media.
As Tamil Nadu was hit by a political storm after Karunanidhi's remarks Sunday, the veteran DMK chief said the LTTE started as a liberation group but turned terrorist later.
"They did not start off as a terrorist group. They began as a liberation group but it has now become a terrorist organisation," Times Now TV quoted him as saying on Monday.
Karunanidhi also insisted that no one had forgotten Sriperumbudur - the small town near Chennai where a Tamil Tigers suicide bomber blew up former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi at an election rally in May 1991.
"We have not forgotten Sriperumbudur," the chief minister said, speaking in Tamil.
He, however, maintained that he would keep asking for a ceasefire in Sri Lanka, where the military is preparing to overwhelm the last LTTE bastion in Mullaitivu district amid growing fears of bloodbath.
Karunanidhi's flip-flop drew instant condemnation from Vaiko, once a lieutenant of Karunanidhi and now leader of the MDMK who described the DMK chief as "the number one traitor to the Tamil race".
Vaiko compared the deaths caused by the military offensive against the LTTE to the holocaust during the Second World War.
Vaiko also accused New Delhi of covertly helping Colombo to pave the way for the current offensive that has left the LTTE struggling to survive in Mullaitivu district. Alleging that nearly 2,000 Tamils had been killed in recent times, he said that most of them were innocent civilians.
"[These are] murderous, barbaric attacks ... against the Tamils. For this holocaust, the UPA [United Progressive Alliance] government led by the Congress party is fully responsible.
"[UPA chairperson and Congress president] Sonia Gandhi is solely responsible. They have planned this for all these five years; they have given all logistic support, given military information [to Sri Lanka], satellite information...
"They have destroyed the ships which carried material for the LTTE. The Indian Navy helped the Sri Lankan Navy to destroy these ships. Today, much blood of Tamils has been shed. This is due to the assistance of the Indian government.