Chennai: The DMK, which walked out of the UPA government last week over the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, finds itself in a spot of embarrassment after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today pointed out that an Indian Premier League (IPL) team owned by M Karunanidhi's grand-nephew has two Sri Lankan players, including the captain.
When Kalanidhi Maran's Sun Group bought the Hyderabad IPL team last year and christened it Sunrisers Hyderabad, ace Lanka batsman Kumar Sangakkara was retained as skipper and $675,000 was paid to acquire all-rounder Thisara Perera.
Speaking in the state assembly today, Ms Jayalalithaa accused DMK chief Karunanidhi of doublespeak. She said he remains silent on the Sri Lankan players in the team owned by his family and called it "the height of selfishness".
Ms Jayalalithaa had yesterday linked the IPL to the unrest in her state over the alleged "genocide" of ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka and ensured that no Lankan cricketers or officials will be involved in the 10 IPL matches to be played in Chennai.
In a state where emotions are running high over the Lankan Tamils issue, Ms Jayalalithaa scored a political point with her letter to the Prime Minister, which said, "In such a hostile and tense environment, we apprehend that the participation of Sri Lankan players in the IPL tournament, with many games to be played in Chennai, will aggravate an already surcharged atmosphere and further offend the sentiments of the people."
By evening, IPL organisers decided that the 13 Lankan players in the tournament would sit out matches in Chennai.
Now people in the city suggest that Kalanidhi Maran sack the two Lankan players in his team. "If he cares about the Tamil issue, he should sack them," said Vaduganathan, a cricket fan.
DMK leader and actor Khushbu said she was "sure the Sun Group will take a call on this".
Sun Group officials were not available for comment, but sources close to Kalanidhi Maran's younger brother and former minister Dayanidhi Maran argue that matters on the Sri Lanka front were much more cordial last year when the team purchased the Sri Lankan players.
Saravan, a cricket fan, pointed out that the IPL was a "business model" and about winning a cricket tournament.
There have been protests all over Tamil Nadu for days now, with all major political parties and students demanding that the union government take a strong stand against Sri Lanka for its alleged war crimes in the final months of the civil war that ended with the defeat of the separatist Tamil Tigers in May 2009.
They accuse the Centre of watering down a resolution against Sri Lanka that was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council last week.
India voted against Sri Lanka, but the Tamil Nadu parties say it let down Sri Lankan Tamils by failing to persuade the UN to use stronger language against the island nation and by not pushing for an independent, rather than an internal inquiry, into the alleged war crimes.