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Monday, April 27, 2009

> Chennai talks to decide Hindraf's future

A meeting of top Hindraf leaders will be convened in Chennai, India this weekend in a last ditch effort to save the movement from splitting up.

Over a dozen top leaders are likely to attend the meeting, said Hindraf chairman P. Waythamoorthy.

“The meeting will iron out differences and chart a new course for the movement,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

Hindraf was banned by the government last October as an “extremist” organisation but is very much alive among the Tamil working class.

Among key leaders expected to attend the meeting are original founding chairman P. Waythamoorthy, national co-coordinator R. S. Thanenthiran, Kapar and Teluk Intan MPs S. Manikavasagam and M. Manohar respectively and PKR Indian leader and Hindraf co-coordinator S. Jayathas, who is hoping to attend despite undergoing dialysis.

“This is a key meeting for us. We hope to settle all our major differences once and for all,” Thanenthiran told Malaysian Insider.

“We have to chart a new course for Hindraf or it will become irrelevant,” he said.

The key issue is whether to transform Hindraf into a full fledged political party — a line pushed by Thanenthiran who feels Hindraf has been taken for a ride by opposition political parties like PKR and especially the DAP.

“If we want to remain credible and fight for Indian rights the best option is to form into a political party and get the best from anybody for the Indians,” Thanenthiran said.

“This is the best option open to us,” he said adding by allowing others to ride on it Hindraf had only gained “peanuts.”

“Most of our basic problems — socio-economic neglect, poverty and marginalisation remain unresolved,” he said.

However Waythamoorthy told The Malaysian Insider that Hindraf must remain apolitical and reorganise into a powerful and independent pressure group to gain benefits.

“We are friendly to opposition political ties but beyond that we are apolitical,” he said. “I will push for this case at the meeting.”

He is keeping his options open however and is also willing to open a dialogue with the Barisan Nasional especially with prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to resolve Indian plight.

He is keen to meet Najib put forward to him the movement’s 18-point demand including the need to convert all 543 Tamil schools in the country into fully-aided schools. Currently half are partially-aided leaving them in ramshackle conditions.

Kapar MP and other PKR leaders however will urge Hindraf to stay as a political pressure group and not transform into a political party.

“There is simply no place for another Indian based political party in the country,” he told The Malaysian Insider. “PKR is the vehicle for all Malaysians… we are the future.”

He said he and others would strongly oppose any arguments to form another Indian political party.

“We are already heavily fragmented and another Indian political party is meaningless and will fragment the community even more,” he said urging Indians to join PKR - The Malaysian Insider.